Ofa Faiva-Siale is excited about the Tongan community being part of Arbor Daze, an annual spring festival in Euless.
“It’s a good opportunity to share our culture with those who are interested, and learn a little bit more about it myself,” said Faiva-Siale, a Euless city employee.
She said she hopes other festival guests will be as intrigued as many Tongans are by videos from the 176-island archipelago in the South Pacific where one of the world’s few remaining monarchies still rules. For its second year as part of this weekend’s festival, the Tongan expatriates who settled by the hundreds in Euless are bringing in more artifacts from their homeland, demonstrating more islander crafts and performing more dances and songs.
The Tonga tent will be the southeast anchor of the roughly two dozen activity and entertainment sites on about three acres of lawn next to the municipal complex, and will fit well with the theme of Arbor Daze: The Ultimate Family Festival, said Betsy Deck, the city’s spokesperson.
“I think it’s neat that we’re celebrating the Tongan heritage,” Deck said. “This helps to bridge gaps through intermingling with other cultures.”
Faiva-Siale said several Tongans will share their culture by teaching visitors some Polynesian dances.
“The dancers tell stories with synchronized movements,” she said. “Most of the dances are not the Tahitian type that get really energetic. Tongan dance is meant to be very slow, feminine.”
The city has slowed the beat of its festival, compared with what it was at its 1989 inception, said Suzanne Henderson, Euless recreation manager.
“We’ve transitioned more into a community festival rather than the big Arbor Daze we used to have,” she said. “We would have more than 200,000 visitors at a festival that ran three full days and took every city employee and 500 to 800 community volunteers to run.”
Last year’s festival drew about 5,500 visitors, and Henderson expected about 10 percent more this year, because Euless dropped Sunday in favor of Friday and is returning some of the event’s popular elements.
The petting zoo is back this year and the main stage features higher-level entertainers, Deck said.
“We’re working toward more concert headliners, and Friday night draws a bigger crowd than Sunday,” she explained.
A separate community stage will feature lots of local talent, Deck said.
Other activities include a bungee jump, rock wall and zip line, and there are plenty of foods available for purchase.
Euless Public Library is back for its second year in the festival, bringing such activities as a Community Tree where visitors can add their names. An Edible Book Contest pits city employees against one another, using food to make creations that represent books. There also will be story time, crafts for kids, wheel-spin giveaways and demonstrations for e-books, digital magazines, genealogy and Tumblebooks.
“Tumblebooks is an online ebook service for kids that the library subscribes to,” said Librarian Sherry Knight. “We’ll demonstrate all of our digital products.”
One thing that hasn’t changed — and probably never will — is the tree giveaway. The city that has given away more than 150,000 trees in the festival’s quarter century has for its 26th year grown 3,500 red oak saplings from acorns picked up in Euless, and will hand them out as long as they last, Henderson said.
If you go
Arbor Daze: The Ultimate Family Festival
▪ 5-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
▪ Euless City Hall complex, 201 N. Ector Drive
▪ Admission is free, and up to 3,500 guests receive free red oak saplings.
▪ Free parking and shuttle services are provided. Go to arbordaze.org for information on activities, entertainment, parking and a festival map.