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Slimmed-down Han Woo-Ri coming back to town

By PHILIP PALERMO

The Mirror

The Han Woo-Ri festival is coming back to Federal Way and organizers are planning to do more with a smaller budget.

The three-day event will feature several exhibitions of Korean culture, from Tae Kwon Do demonstrations to music and dance performances.

“(There’s) stuff going on all over,” Community Development Director Patrick Doherty said. “Everybody kind of has something.”

New this year will be a Korean pop concert June 11, featuring local acts and popular bands from Korea.

Doherty said the addition of a pop concert came out of follow-up meetings after this past year’s event.

“We didn’t have that younger element last year,” he said. “We sort of realized there wasn’t anything that expressly addressed young adults.”

While many of the festivities will be centered around a village area at the The Commons mall, Doherty said several events will be available in and around Federal Way.

To the south, Todd Beamer High School will host a Tae Kwon Do tournament. Doherty said Tae Kwon Do exhibitions were featured in the first Han Woo-Ri festival but this will be the first year for a tournament.

Just outside Federal Way, at Tacoma’s Northshore Golf Course, Korean members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association will team up with local residents for a 36-team tournament.

Even with new features and events, Doherty said this year’s Han Woo-Ri festival was organized with a smaller overall budget and a smaller contribution from the city.

According to a May 16 memo from the city’s Finance Manager Tho Kraus, expenditures for the 2005 festival totaled about $491,000 for a loss of about $29,000.

The memo states the city’s hotel/motel tax generated about $175,000 in revenue to help cover festival costs. The city added another $25,000 from the city manager contingency fund to balance the deficit.

Doherty said the festival’s budget this year was $300,000, with the city contributing about $42,000.

“The plan is to get the event going,” he explained, adding the eventual goal is for the festival to be mostly self-sustaining, with possibly little or no city contributions in the future.

Part of the trouble with getting the festival off the ground was lower than expected revenue in 2005, Doherty said.

Organizers are planning a change to the admissions into the Han Woo-Ri Festival Village, going away from the $5 suggested donations of this past year in favor of a small admission fee.

This year, admission into the village will cost $2 for adults and $1 for seniors and children 12 and younger. Children younger than 5 will be admitted free of charge.

Doherty said the admission fee should help reduce confusion compared to the $5 suggested donations.

“I think our admission fees are really pretty low,” he said. “It isn’t really possible to have free events anymore.”

Admission fees should also help organizers gauge attendance at this year’s festival.

In 2005, attendance was measured based on the amount of donations accepted.

“It was hard to know how many people attended,” Doherty said.

Head-counting problems aside, Doherty said the Han Woo-Ri festival not only fills a niche for the Korean-American community, but for Federal Way as well.

“There just wasn’t really an ongoing, large Korean-American Festival,” he said. “It isn’t a festival just for Korean-Americans and it isn’t just a festival for Federal Way.”

Doherty said he hopes the festival brings in visitors from well beyond the city limits. Informal surveys seemed to show the 2005 event did draw people into the city.

By walking among the crowd, Doherty said he surveyed attendees, asking them which ZIP code they resided in.

“I went for 55 minutes without a repeat ZIP code. People were from all over,” Doherty said. “So hopefully it does in fact draw people from around. We were hoping it would become a signature event for the community.”

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