By: Jenny Ishida, JASSC Student Board Member
Hundreds of people strolled through the long breezeway at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) on October 20th, picking up and examining various kimono, yukata, t-shirts, dishes, decorations and books at the Japanese Cultural Festival and Bazaar. The highly anticipated annual event is organized by Japan America Society of Southern Colorado (JASSC). There were a multitude of tables filled with Japanese treasures old and new, big and small.
This is the first year that the Cultural Festival and Bazaar has been held on the UCCS campus, a result of the growing popularity of the annual event.
The bazaar originally began in 1999 as a small dish and craft sale in the parking lot of Suehiro, a local Japanese restaurant (that has since closed). Thirteen years later, the event has grown nearly ten times its initial size with the addition of more sales items, live performances, and art demonstrations, bringing in over 1000 patrons annually.
Josie Caruso-Rathe, a dedicated member of the society, has spearheaded the bazaar for the last five years or so, collecting items all year and organizing a multitude of volunteers and vendors. She is also assisted by Kayoko Jennings, who has organized the entertainment portion of the event for just as long.
To alter an old adage, it takes a village to raise a bazaar. Almost all of the society members are active and present for the event and work incredibly cohesively to make every year a success. The bazaar will undoubtedly create more involvement in Japanese culture, and continue to be an event that Colorado Springs looks forward to every year.