Asian Festival in Silver City
A reflection of cultural growth
By Debby Tewes
 Silver City is one of Milwaukee's historic neighborhoods and over the
years has seen a diverse group of immigrants settle in the area. Its
proximity to the rail yards and the Menomonee Industrial Valley has
made it attractive to working class families for many years. The name
"Silver City" is believed to have been coined in the early days of the
railroad and valley industry when workers would cash their paychecks
at the local saloons and would often be paid in silver dollars. A traveler
passing through the area stopped to slake his thirst and marveled at
the silver coins on the bar and exclaimed "Why this must be Silver
City!" and the name stuck. The neighborhood today is a wonderful
ethnic mix of Lao, Hmong, Vietnamese, Thai, Hispanic, Anglo, Native
American and African American residents.
  The most recent group to settle here are the Asian families, attracted
by reasonable home prices and many commercial buildings along
National Avenue, suited perfectly for small family owned businesses
including some new Asian restaurants. As part of the Main Street
Initiative, which provides grants for neighborhood improvements and
job creation, the Silver City Main Street group has staged a couple of
ethnic and general festivals including Trick or Treat Street, Silver City
Days and Concerts in the Park. This year, they also decided to add an
Asian Festival to recognize the growing Asian presence along
National Avenue.
  Silver City contacted the Wisconsin Organization for Asian
Americans-Milwaukee for advice and assistance in staging a festival
along the lines of Asian Moon Festival. We jumped at the chance to
help. Under the leadership of Pa Britney Xiong of Western Bilingual
Agency and Helen Hermus, the Silver City Main Street Director, we
worked for six months to stage the event on September 22nd. We
weren't sure how the event would do but imagine our excitement to
find ourselves in the midst of a huge crowd of an estimated 4,000
people, many of whom we recognized from Asian Moon! See for
yourself in the photos on this page that all had a great time  and plans
are already taking place for next year.