Monday, November 18, 2019
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While the cool damp weather kept some folks away and canceled some of the planned outdoor entertainment, there were still plenty of people who came out to enjoy the annual BorderFest held in Hidalgo held March 5-8.

Inside the World Stage tent, the Korean Cultural Preservation Committee of Houston demonstrated native Korean dances. The first was a sword dance performed by two Korean women, who did a dance similar ballet while swinging swords at various times in the dance. They wore their hair in traditional Korean style and wore bright pink traditional style dress for the dance. The dance has its origins back in 600 AD when the king invited a sword dancer to come to his palace and dance for him. The dancer had grievances against the way the king was treating the people and slew him during the dance. Today, the dance is a part of traditional Korean culture.

20150309 Borderfest-Korean-Farmers-Dance KO IMG 7894Following the sword dance, there was a Farmer’s Dance, also on the list of Korean traditions to be preserved as intangible Korean cultural assets. This dance was a celebration provided by the rich landowning landlord to the peasants who worked on his property. It would be danced on the Lunar New Year in February, the time when planting would normally start. It was also used at harvest time, for the solstice and equinox and on other special occasions such as weddings.

The dance uses a variety of drums in it. As the “rich landlord” explained, the instruments were primarily percussion because the people had little other musical training. The dance included hand drums, two-headed drums, a gong, and drums that looked more like the American snare drum, but made from leather products. It was the landlord’s duty to provide all the musical instruments as well as the food and drink for the people, who would march through the landlord’s fields playing their music.

In 1962, the Farmer’s Dance was named the most important intangible cultural asset to be preserved by the country of Korea. In 2014, the dance was added to the UNESCO world lists of cultural traditions that need to be recognized and preserved.

Next to the stage there was an outdoor area with several open tents that had Korean demonstrations like origami and other crafts, lantern-making and Korean games to play. There was a booth selling Korean jackets and dresses. One side of the area had a display of Korean art resembling the totem poles built by the Indian tribes of the northwest coast setup against a display of Korean lanterns. There were many children in this area learning Korean crafts and games.

In addition to the Korean dancers the South Texas Indian Dancers also performed on the World Stage. Other tents held other entertainment, including hypnotist Eric Kand, folkloric and mariachi performances, Estudiantina Guadalupana, and other entertainers. H-E-B and Kraft had their usual displays along with the carnival. There was a marketplace filled with all sorts of souvenirs. And, of course, the traditional illuminated parade was scheduled for 7 p.m.

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