A slight chill in the air didn't keep hundreds of people from turning out for the Wonderful Indonesia Festival at Sugar Land Town Square on Sunday and enjoying the tastes and cultural offerings of one of the largest countries in the world.
The event, sponsored by the Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia, returned to Sugar Land for the second time, after its first time in 2019. In previous years, the event had been held at the consulate's headquarters in Houston's Westchase district.
The event's move to Sugar Land is meant to highlight the cultural and economic ties between the area and Indonesia, Consul General Andre Omer Siregar and Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman told attendees as they opened the festivities, with both of them gamely playing on traditional Indonesian drums.
"We welcome everybody," Zimmerman said.
Indonesia, an archipelago nation comprised of more than 17,000 islands stretched across the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Other faiths include Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and many indigenous religions.
There were plenty of cultural offerings on display at the festival. Several booths featuring traditional Indonesian fare, as well as some not-so-traditional, lined one side of the square.
Greg Thibodeaux and Chrisye Lucia of Pasadena enjoyed a beef-and-rice dish. Lucia, who is an Indonesia native who has lived in the U.S. for several years, said she came at the invitation of a friend who was one of the event organizers.
"I miss my Indonesian food," she said.
Thibodeaux, who originally hails from Louisiana and calls himself a Cajun, said he was glad to be able to partake in a bit of his girlfriend's culture, as he's never visited her home country.
There were also several booths selling Indonesian-style garments. Christina Munser and her husband, Morten, sold traditional batik, a form of clothing used primarily for special occasions. Batik cloth is made through a special wax-resist technique developed in Java, one of Indonesia's largest islands.
Chrstina said she learned the labor-intensive technique from her grandparents and hopes to pass on the cultural knowledge. Besides her own clothing, she sells batik made by women back in Indonesia.
On the plaza in front of City Hall, there was a full day's worth of entertainment, emceed by Audra Gorsuch and Titin Spangler, both of the consulate.
Among the acts on display were traditional and modern dancers, a couple of fashion shows, and singer Aurelia Sky M.D., a plastic surgeon who said she is embarking on finally making her singing dreams come true. At one point, Erika Siregar, the consul general's wife, was able to coaxing her husband, Zimmerman, and A.H.N. Myung-Soo, the visiting Consul General of the Republic of Korea, up for a dance.
Perhaps the most involving entertainment was the performance of an ensemble playing the traditional instrument known as the angklung, a wind instrument made of bamboo tubes. Much like handbells, each instrument plays a particular octaves, so songs are played with several people.
The "choir" performed two songs, "You Raise Me Up" and the Louie Armstrong classic "What a Wonderful World," along with members of the Awty International School choir and musicians from Clements High School.
Afterward, members of the audience were invited to try their hand on the angklung, with an instructor leading them through a rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
The event took place just one day before the devastating November 21 earthquake on the Indonesian island of Java.