The Year of the Snake

Jacksonville celebrates Chinese New Year Saturday
Loong Mah Ladies Dragon Dance Team at the 2011 Chinese New Year celebration in Jacksonville.Photo courtesy of SOCCA

Chinese food, tai chi, history, calligraphy, acupuncture and kids' activities will be showcased during the annual Chinese New Year celebration this weekend in Jacksonville.

The event resembles a crash course in Chinese culture, says Geresa Hren, who helps organize the event.

Schedule of events

8 a.m. — The 5K Snake-A-Leg Fun Run will start at Bigham Knoll, 525 E. E St. Applications are available at

  • 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — A collection of antique, Chinese furnishings from Tree House Oriental Antiques will be displayed in the U.S. Hotel Ballroom.
  • 10:30 a.m. — The Lion and Dragon Dance Parade begins.
  • 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Photographs of traditional, Chinese crafts will be displayed at the Jacksonville Art Presence Art Center in the historical Jackson County jail, 216 N. Fifth St.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Chef William Prahl will demonstrate how to make "firecracker" long noodles with stir-fried pork and tofu, as well as Chinese vegetables, at Deja Vu Bistro and Wine Bar at the McCully House, 240 E. California St. Admission is $5 and includes samples.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — NPR correspondent Tom Banse will present "Unfinished Journey: A Treasure Box of Documents and a Long Trip Home" about the campaign to repatriate the remains of pioneer Chinese immigrants in Oregon. The talk will take place in the U.S. Hotel Ballroom. Banse also will present at noon Friday, Feb. 15, in the Hannon Library on the Southern Oregon University campus, Ashland.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Anthony Hutchison, a former U.S. diplomat to China, will talk about how the Chinese see us in his presentation, "American and Chinese: Perceptions and Misperceptions," at the Historic Presbyterian Church, 405 E. California St.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Historian Larry Smith will present "Searching for Gold Mountain: The Chinese of Jacksonville" at the Old City Hall on Main Street.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Barbara Meredith will teach an adaptation of yang-style, short-form tai chi for seniors at the Masonic Lodge, 135 S. Oregon St.
  • 11:30 am. to 1 p.m. — Owen Jurling will offer acupuncture treatments, and Fuyou Long will demonstrate calligraphy at the library.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Live music by the Who's Hu Chinese Band and tea will be at the Historic Presbyterian Church.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. — A dragon jump-house will be on the lawn of Jacksonville Museum, and children's games and activities will be at the Odd Fellows Hall, 175 S. Oregon St., Jacksonville.
  • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. — Artist Liz Shepherd will demonstrate traditional, Chinese ink-brush painting at the Jacksonville Art Presence Art Center.
  • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. — Sugeet Posey will talk about feng shui at the U.S. Hotel Ballroom.
  • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. — Victoria Law will present the anecdotal lecture "Seventy Thousand Firecrackers: The Story of Chinese New Year in Victorian Ashland" at the Historic Presbyterian Church.
  • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. — David Day will present "The Mood and the Wind: Beyond Kung-Fu" and demonstrate the martial-arts form at the Masonic Lodge.
  • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. — Ken Bendat, a doctor of Chinese medicine, will share amusing and insightful perspectives about "The Year of the Snake" at the Old City Hall.
  • 1:30 p.m. — Loong Mah Sing See Wui Dragonhorse Lion Dance Association performs "It's a Jungle in Here!" in the Jacksonville Elementary School gymnasium, 655 Hueners Lane. Admission is $5.
  • A selection of photographs of Chinese pioneers by Peter Britt and costumes from Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2012 production "The White Snake" will be displayed in the U.S. Hotel Ballroom.

"This is a great opportunity to be exposed to this very important, emerging culture, even though it's 5,000 years old," Hren says.

The communitywide celebration, hosted by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association, will kick off with a 5K fun run at 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, and continue throughout the day in downtown Jacksonville.

The annual Lion and Dragon Dance Parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of California and Oregon streets and proceed four blocks to Fifth Street. Parade participants include 100 children from Ruch Elementary School, international students from area schools dressed in traditional Chinese "royal court" garments, Tahitian dancers, St. Mary's School students dressed as animals of the zodiac, the Crater High School marching band and about 35 other groups.

Educational lectures and demonstrations, along with children's activities and crafts (origami and calligraphy), will be offered between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at various locations around Jacksonville. (See schedule on this page.) Most activities are free, but some have small fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. Call 541-899-8118.

Back by popular demand, the Loong Mah Sing See Wui Dragonhorse Lion Dance Association, a 30-member, San Francisco dance troupe, will not only appear in the parade but also perform "It's a Jungle in Here!" featuring a mischievous monkey king, acrobatic lions and a dragon, at 1:30 p.m. at Jacksonville Elementary School.

The Jacksonville celebration has come full circle as it celebrates the year of the snake, last celebrated in 2001. For those unfamiliar with the zodiac, Chinese astrology can be broken down into a 60-year cycle of 12 animals and five elements, explains Ken Bendat, an Ashland acupuncturist and Chinese scholar. Last year marked the year of the (water) dragon.

"A dragon year is characterized by grand scale and an almost tumultuous energy," Bendat says. "When it goes to the snake, all that energy is supposed to go underground ... so it's a withdrawn year and kind of has a hidden quality to it.

"It's a year to be reflective rather than impulsive."

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