When you step into the Pomona Fairplex, you are no longer standing in Southern California, but rather one of the largest melting pots of Asian American culture in the United States. With 19th -20th, 2019 having served as the 38th Annual Asian American Expo, the event had a lot of history and weight behind it.

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to step into a wonderland?

Well, that’s exactly what the Asian American Expo lets you do.

But it wasn’t always what it was today, and three decades with change is a long time for something to grow.

When it was founded in 1982, the Asian American Expo (then known as Chinese American Expo) consisted of only about 60 booths. It wasn’t much to start out with, but since then that number has swelled. This year the number of exhibitors was upwards of 800! Within that number, a total of three separate food pavilions had to be set up to properly feed the masses. These exhibitors were divided up among seven different exhibition halls where thousands of visitors mingled in the various cultures and industries.

During the course of the two-day event, hundreds of vendors set up their booths and promoted their products for a far wider audience than what they would normally be able to gather. Business owners were granted the opportunity to mingle, network and deepen the web of connections that they’ve developed over the years.

The opportunities that came with this once a year gathering for business owners cannot be understated, as more than half a dozen cultures were represented in this celebration with representatives from all over the world. During the course of the event, business owners had the chance to jump on trends as they occurred, discover new resources and ingredients to add to their repertoire and establish new partnerships even as they renewed the old. The Asian American Expo is the premiere Asian Trade Market show in America, and the single greatest opportunity for these businesses.

It is quite amazing how something that started out so small has grown so massive. What originally began just as a way for the local community to gather together has since become the single largest Lunar New Year celebration in the United States, a fact that should be spoken of with pride. The Asian American Expo is a chance to transcend the language and culture barrier and speak to each other in a language that everyone understands.

Carl Schmidt Sohn