THE HISTORY OF PISTA SA NAYON
The tradition of the Pista sa Nayon dates back centuries to the rural areas and towns of the Philippines. During Pista sa Nayon, Filipinos gathered for a fiesta in the middle of town to celebrate a good harvest. The celebrations incorporate the culture and traditions of the culture of the Philippines. Through music, dance, art, and food, it was a time for people to focus on their neighbors, family and friends, solidifying the sense of community and hard work.
As the first large waves of Filipino immigrants arrived in America during the 19th and early 20th centuries, they brought this tradition with them on a variety of scales. Today, festivals are held in many communities with significant Filipino American populations, such as those in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Honolulu and of course here in Seattle with Pista sa Nayon.
Pista sa Nayon was first proposed in 1990 as a cultural arts festival by Ron Sims, then a member of the King County Council. Together with his wife, Cayan Topacio and his staff assistant Bengie Santos (both Filipino Americans); they approached Filipino American community leaders and asked for their support in establishing a summer festival associated with Seafair. The purpose of the festival was to celebrate Filipino culture while also giving the growing Filipino American population a sense of partnership with the larger Seattle community.
By 1990, the Filipino American community was fast becoming one the largest Asian American groups in the State of Washington. Most of this population is concentrated in the Puget Sound area, among the counties of King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish. With this in mind, Sims, Topacio, Santos, and other Filipino American leaders, mobilized the community to support the establishment of Pista sa Nayon.
The first festival was held in 1990 at Rainier Playfield, drawing roughly 2,000 attendees. Pista’s crowd has consistently grown each year. After a three-year (pandemic) pause of an in-person event, we’re excited to welcome everyone back in 2023 as we celebrate 34 years.
Pista is an official Seafair sanctioned community event.It is truly the ultimate gathering for Filipinos across the state of Washington. Food booths feature a variety of tastes, the highlight of course being authentic Filipino cuisine. Human service organizations provide free helpful information for children, youth, families and seniors of the community. Local businesses promote their products and services.
Throughout the festival, the crowd gathers around the event’s centerpiece, the Amphitheater stage. The entertainment schedule features a wide spectrum of performances and presentations from traditional/cultural to modern/contemporary. Entertainment is provided by professionals and aspiring artists who not only wish to showcase their talents and cultural heritage but also their pride and love for the community. The festival includes the award winning Filipino Youth Activities Drill Team, local Filipino American bands participating in a jazz jam session, and traditional and contemporary dancers and singers from throughout Washington State and beyond.
Pista strives to give the growing Filipino American population a sense of partnership with the larger Seattle/King County region. It is the support of community that is the key to Pista's success. Throughout the year, volunteers meet, plan and raise funds to ensure its success. Over 150 volunteers work on Pista so that Filipinos and Filipinos at heart can experience the very best of being Filipino. Catering to everyone from birth to community elders, it has become the quintessential family reunion on a wonderfully grand scale.