DEERPARK — For Lydia Wong of Otisville, Sunday's Moon Festival in Deerpark brings back fond memories of growing up in China.

“It’s like Thanksgiving, so in China, every family, all of the people celebrate it,” she said.

In China and other Asian countries, the festival is a time to go home and see relatives, eat special food like mooncake and dress in special attire, according to Wong.

The festival is celebrated the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when the moon is believed to be the most full of the year.

It's considered one of the biggest holidays in Chinese culture, second to the Chinese New Year, according to Jin Pang, an organizer of this year's festival at New Century Films, an Asian film studio and production company in Deerpark.

Pang grew up in China, too, and said the moon festival is also a time to "show your gratitude to the harvest given by the heavens.”

The festival started on Friday and wrapped up Sunday afternoon, marking the fourth year of the festival and second time that New Century Films hosted it.

About 2,000 people attended it throughout the weekend, according to Pang.

Pang described the festival as a bridge to bring people of various cultures together.

The organizers mix traditional items and imagery such as lanterns, dragons and the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e with modern features of other festivals to attract a diverse crowd, Pang added.

The Chinese legend goes that Chang'e's husband, Hou Yi, was an archer who shot down nine of 10 suns to save the Earth from being scorched.

Depending on the version, Hou Yi was rewarded with a pill or an elixir of immortality from the heavens and Chang'e ended up consuming it and floated to the moon, where she lives.

There were about 80 vendors selling goods from clothes to soap or that provided information about organizations, schools or services.

The festival also featured various performances by musicians and martial artists.

“Our experience is that it’s kind of the most culturally unique event we believe in Orange County and the tri-state area,” Pang said.

mnanci@th-record.com