Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) SLO will host its first festival celebrating AAPI Heritage Month this Sunday.

The festival will take place at SLO Public Market, where local Asian-owned businesses, restaurants and clubs will serve as vendors.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven booths will be selling food, nine artists will be displaying their work and three performances will take place.

Kaela Lee, the founder of AAPI SLO, said they’ve been planning the festival since December with the goal of bringing together the AAPI and the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) communities.

“We want to bring together the current AAPI/APIDA community in the Central Coast to see how big of a community we actually are, to enjoy local Asian business and talents and to see the true diversity within the AAPI/APIDA community,” Lee said.

After organizing a rally in May 2021 in response to the AAPI hate crimes, AAPI SLO wanted to host another event. Lee said the rally showed them how many allies they have. 

The festival is for everyone, from college students to families. The purpose of the festival is to have the community come together. Similar to the rally, it is an event that “brings together the same feeling of pride of our community,” Lee said. 

Omega Xi Delta is Cal Poly’s first Asian-Interest Fraternity and will be a vendor at the festival, selling onigiri. Omega Xi Delta feels this is a great opportunity to promote one of the three pillars of their fraternity: cultural awareness. 

“This festival is a great way to celebrate Asian cultures in a not-so-Asian area,” Omega Xi Delta President Roman Turangan said. 

Bringing the festival to the Central Coast is one step toward the goal of APPI SLO’s founders: to provide a community. 

“In my experience, I felt that there was an AAPI/APIDA presence on the central coast, but no sense of community,” Lee said. 

AAPI SLO is a grassroots organization in the process of becoming a nonprofit. AAPI SLO wants to bring together individuals who identify as AAPI/APIDA, but will welcome individuals of all backgrounds. The organization is led by five women, including three interns. 

“We have a dual focus of raising awareness of inequity through community involvement while encouraging the strengthening of the existing AAPI through community events,” Lee said.