Vegan's Chronicles + [Vegan]

Cheonan's Heungtaryeong Festival 2010
Cheonan Fall Festival

On Friday, I got to check out Cheonan's annual fall Heungtaryeong Festival, a week-long celebration of international dance, culture, and food. Even though my family has been living in Cheonan for several years now, this was the first time we actually checked out this festival!

Cheonan Fall Festival

The main attraction was the International Folk Dance competition in which groups from 24 countries participated. We didn't watch the performances for too long (we wanted to get to the food!), but what we did see was pretty fun.

Cheonan Fall Festival

We saw a few European nations' performances when we first arrived, and then right before we headed home, we caught the Indian dance group which I loved the most. The music and dance moves were so fun.

Cheonan Fall Festival

Half the audience was composed of older ajumas and ajushis who were involved in different Korean traditional folk dance groups and were also competing. They were all decked out in fancy hanboks and headpieces with crazy stage-makeup.

Cheonan Fall Festival

I really wanted to see them bust their moves, but we arrived at the party a lil late and missed their performances. boo~

Cheonan Fall Festival

Next, we headed to the food/local agriculture expo which had a bunch of tents selling all kinds of fall produce and snacks.

Cheonan Fall Festival

Some prize-winning pears and red peppers. Gorgeous.

There were also plenty of yummy foods at every tent, many of which were luring customers with free samples.

Cheonan Fall Festival

Bindae-ddeok pancakes~

Cheonan Fall Festival

Jjin-bbang! (steamed buns)

Cheonan Fall Festival

Grilled rice cakes on a stick.

Cheonan Fall Festival

Fresh shiitake mushrooms

Cheonan Fall Festival

Ginseng

Cheonan Fall Festival

These are ginseng roots dunked in batter and then deep-fried. Naturally, this was one of the most popular tents- it was positively hopping with customers! It just goes to show that you can take any generally unpleasant ingredient and make it appealing with a "healthy" dose of batter and oil. :)

Cheonan Fall Festival

Ofcourse we had to get one!

Cheonan Fall Festival

The ginseng flavor was surprisingly mild and mellow- I could barely even notice the ginseng taste and it was more like eating a yam. Quite good!

And what's a food fair without ddeok?

Cheonan Fall Festival
Cheonan Fall Festival

Which one to get... so hard to choose!

Cheonan Fall Festival

I picked this package of sool-ddeok (aka 'Jeungpyeon'), which is one of my favorite ddeoks of all time. These steamed rice cakes are made from fermented rice flour dough and rice wine such as makkeolli (hence the 'sool' (alcohol) in the name), and are garnished with some black sesame seeds and pine nuts. They have an awesome soft, yet chewy texture, and taste slightly sweet but also a little sour from the fermentation.

When I was in high school, I never liked ddeok, but it was this 'sool-ddeok' that initiated my conversion to a ddeok enthusiast... There was just something about its chewy yet fluffy texture and mellow taste that was totally craveable. Hm, I wonder if the 'sool' had anything to do with that. ;) But I swear, as a kid, I didn't even know it had alcohol in it- I just knew it tasted good. lol. Now I know why... .

There were also a bunch of demonstration booths where people could try their hand at making some crafty things, such as...

Cheonan Fall Festival

hand fans...

Cheonan Fall Festival

cutesy candles...

Cheonan Fall Festival

... and handmade blackbean tofu.

Cheonan Fall Festival

One of my favorite parts was the ddeok-making demonstration. The ajushi made everything seem so easy and the ddeoks came out looking effortlessly cool and funky. I wanna do this!

Cheonan Fall Festival
Cheonan Fall Festival
Cheonan Fall Festival

Looks like peppermint candy, huh?

Cheonan Fall Festival

Unfortunately, as is the case with many fairs, there were also some farm animals on display. These calves were so adorable and yet I couldn't help but think about their eventual cruel fates.

Cheonan Fall Festival

And then there were lots and lots of baby chicks for sale. I will admit that these little guys are so fluffy and sweet that it's hard to resist the temptation to just stuff one in your pocket and take home! Sadly, I think most Korean parents who purchase a chick for their kid, do so expecting and even counting on them to die within a few days because otherwise, they would have to deal with a real, full-grown chicken running around their apartment, pecking and pooping up a storm. But then again, these guys will probably live a hard life and face a cruel death, regardless. :( What's better?

Cheonan Fall Festival

Could this adorable face become your next bowl of sam-gye-tang?

Cheonan Fall Festival

To end on a positive note, here are some scenic shots of the Cheonan Sam-Geori Park.

Cheonan Fall Festival
Cheonan Fall Festival

I hadn't been to this park in years and recent renovations, as well as all the festival tents, had transformed the park beyond recognition. It's not very big, but it's still a good place to find some peace and tranquility~

Cheonan Fall Festival

Oh, and in one section of the park, we saw a little drum 'circle,' composed of old grampas banging out some folksy rhythms. They were so cute. I love seeing old people out and about.

So that concludes the highlights of my Cheonan Heungtaryeong Festival experience. I'm so glad that I finally went this year. Turns out, this little city has more to offer than meets the eye! :) The event was way bigger than I expected and had so many different things going on~ It all made for an awesome time and I look forward to revisiting it next year!