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Gifts from the East
It's the 16th annual Savannah Asian Festival
The SinoElite Acrobats are based in Orlando

The best Chinese restaurant buffet's got nothing, aroma-wise, on the MLK Arena during the Savannah Asian Festival.

During the event, the big room is redolent with the spicy smells of China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and other Eastern epuicurian centers of delight.

It all happens this Saturday - for the 16th consecutive year - in the Savannah Civic Center complex.

How do you find the place? Follow your nose!

As always, numerous Asian cultures will be represented through artistry and craftwork, calligraphy and clothing.

Among the perennial performers: The Orlando-based kumi-daiko (drumming ensemble) Matsuriza. Taiko drumming ensembles blend traditional Japanese folk culture, shrine music, elements of jazz rhythm and a fierce and often quite dazzling sense of showmanship.

The members of Matsuriza also play bamboo flutes (shinobue and shakuhachi) and the three-stringed shamisen.

Taiko came to the United States in the late 1960s, and it's estimated that there are around 200 performing groups in the country today.

Also from Florida, the SinoElite Acrobats put on a colorful show with contortionists, plate-spinning, unicycle stunts, head, hand and foot juggling, hula hooping and, of course, the legendary Lion Dance.

This is, essentially, two acrobats inside a big lion costume, rolling, tumbling and leaping across the stage. More than 2,000 years old, the Lion Dance is almost always a part of every parade and festival in China.

Savannah Asian Festival

Where: Martin Luther King Jr. Arena, Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave.

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 11

Admission: Free (except food)

Performance schedule

11 a.m. Opening Ceremony and Parade of Flags

11:30 a.m. Lee's TaeKwando Martial Arts Demonstrations (Korea)

11:55 a.m. Shufang Chen, Gu-Zheng Musician (Taiwan)

12:20 p.m. Matsuriza Taiko Drummers (Japan)

12:45 p.m. Sanggar Lestari Indonesian Performing Group

1:10 p.m. SinoElite Acrobats (China)

1:45 p.m. Sampaguita Dance Troupe (Philippines)

2:10 p.m. Children of Polynesia

2:35 p.m. Hac Long Duong Lion Dancers (Vietnam)

3 p.m. Thailand Dance Group

3:25 p.m. Matsuriza Taiko Drummers (Japan)

4 p.m. SinoElite Acrobats (China)