|OMG! THE LOTUS PLANTS HAVE FINALLY RETURNED TO ECHO PARK LAKE!!!!|
Recently, the ups-and-downs of the Festival almost seem to be a direct reflection of the City government's financial health.
And of course, The Militant Angeleno has been covering The Lotus Festival every single year.
So here we go with the 2011 edition...
Right after The Militant arrived in Echo Park on Saturday, the whole thing was summed up in two words: SCALED DOWN.
|Hey, the bird vendor exhibit was really popular though.|
The food court was sorely lacking in variety. You had like eight Thai food stands, four Mexican food stands and one Korean BBQ stand (Guess where The Militant ate at...nothing against Thai or Mexican food, he loves them too, but give us some more choices, sheesh!), and that was it. Gone were those crazy USC students selling Okinawan dangos. The Vietnames banh mi was more like banh M.I.A. And likewise for anyone looking for Indian, Hawaiian, Filipino or Chinese food...you were out of luck this year.
The two most fun events of the Festival - The Saturday night fireworks display and the traditional Dragon Boat Race - were absent from the Festival for the second year in a row, for obvious budget reasons.
Even though the Festival is no longer exclusively run by the City's Department of Recreation and Parks, the Lotus Festival Inc. nonprofit that operates it now isn't exactly oozing with money either. The fireworks display, normally performed by a Rialto-based pyrotechnics company, costs over ten thousand dollars to produce.
The Dragon Boat Race, a benefit event raising scholarship money, run by participating local businesses, nonprofits and offices of elected officials, using privately-owned boats, is also a victim of the budget crisis. According to one operative, the City's Rec and Parks Department charges the boat race organizers $4,000 just to use the Echo Park lake's jetty, and an additional $2,000 to tranport the boats out of storage.
Sure the City needs some extra cash, but will $6,000 in revenue really make a difference in the $336 million budget deficit? And why all that money just to use the dang jetty, when the lake will be shut down on Tuesday for a 21-month rehab project anyway (more on this next week)?
Speaking of which, this will be the last Lotus Festival until at 2013 or 2014. The organizers have previously toyed with the idea of moving the Festival to either Lincoln Park or nearby MacArthur Park, but have decided it's best to just go into hiatus again and stay put.
Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. is your last chance to enjoy the Lotus Fest (and Echo Park Lake itself) for quite a while. This year, the featured culture is Thailand, and on Sunday only they will have a muay thai kickboxing ring set up in the park (According to another operative, it's not the same ring as the one at the Songkran Thai New Year festival). So get your kicks while they last.
Lotus Fest, The Militant will miss ya, but do come back strong.