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July 03, 1994|TOMMY LI

Find out all about Asian-Pacific Islander cultures at this year's 17th Lotus Festival in Echo Park.

The two-day event, Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and July 10 from noon to 8 p.m., will provide festival-goers with a taste of Asian cultures through more than 20 food booths, arts and crafts tables and live performances, officials said.

This year the festival will highlight Thailand. For the first time, a pavilion will be set up to give visitors a chance to learn about Thailand's heritage and art styles and to watch food carving demonstrations, said Rusmee Jongjarearn, an honorary chairwoman of the event.

Opening ceremonies Saturday afternoon will include Buddhist chants, a Thai classical orchestra, traditional Thai dance and a drum ceremony.

The Lotus Festival, started in the early 1970s by the city's parks and recreation department and the Council of Oriental Organizations, is named after the lotus flower because it represents rebirth, purity and life among most Asian cultures.

Among the cultures represented are the Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Samoan, Tongan, Laotian and Malaysian.

"This is something for the entire family," said Maile Marquand, festival chairwoman.

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The 17th Lotus Festival, Echo Park between Glendale and Park boulevards. Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and July 10 from noon to 8 p.m. Admission is free. Prices for food and arts and crafts items vary. Information: (213) 485-5448.

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