For the fifth year, the Ohio Chinese Festival will showcase "the splendor and richness" of Chinese culture in commemorating a new year.

For the fifth year, the Ohio Chinese Festival will showcase "the splendor and richness" of Chinese culture in commemorating a new year.

The Ohio Chinese Culture Link, together with the Ohio Contemporary Chinese Schools and other community organizations, will host the free event from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, at Westerville Central High School. It will include authentic food, martial arts performances, folk dance, games of table tennis and Mahjong and on-stage performances.

"Dublin has the Irish Festival and we're trying to build this tradition in Westerville," said Dr. Minru Li, a Westerville resident and assistant director of the National East Asian Language Resource Center at The Ohio State University.

"We had about 8,000 people attend the festival last year," Li said. "One of our goals is to introduce the Chinese language and culture to the Columbus area and promote a cultural exchange."

The Chinese people mark their new year to renew generational strengths. The Year of the Dragon celebration began on Jan. 23 and ends on Monday, Feb. 9. It marks a year for great deeds, innovative ideas and big projects.

It is said the dragon is favorable for the establishment of family, the birth of healthy and smart children.

"The dragon symbolizes power, confidence and independence and it gives good fortune to people," Li said.

The Feb. 4 event in Westerville offers two stage shows, which will include Peking opera, lion dances, ballet and other ethnic dances and musical instruments. More than 350 artists from across the state, and cities such as Detroit and Pittsburgh, performed at last year's festival.

This year, the festival also will present a special exhibition and film of the Southwest Province of Guizhou, China.

The first festival held in Worthington in 2008 drew around 6,000 visitors and has grown each year, with 2010 surveys indicating only half of attendees were Chinese or Asian.

Along with attracting more people, the event also is gaining more attention. According to Li, a Midwest Chinese festival is unique because the East and West coasts are home to the most Chinese populations.

Li said the festival in Westerville will be filmed and shown on China's largest national TV station and written about in newspapers in that country.