Monday, December 27, 2010
Fresno – It's known as the biggest celebration of its kind in the country, but this year, the Hmong new year celebration is divided.
There are two different events, going on at the same time in Fresno.
It was business as usual at the Fresno Fairgrounds, where thousands of people came, to celebrate the Hmong new year.
"This is the last and biggest Hmong new year celebration in the U.S. and in the world," said Ge Herr, who is on the governance board of the Hmong International New Year Foundation.
Every year for the past decade, about 100,000 people pass through the gates, from all over the state, and country.
"We drove all the way from Sacramento to perform. It's pretty fun," said Julie Vang.
"It's just tradition, you feel like you're at home, it's family, all families here," said Kevin Lee.
General Vang Pao, the beloved leader of the Hmong community in the United States also attended the event at the fairgrounds.
A second celebration, just six miles away, at the Regional Sports Complex is going on at the same time.
Thousands of people also attended the opening day of festivities there.
"It has much more room, it's not that crowded, everything's the same-vendors, food, same thing," said Emily Yang.
Organizers of that celebration, United Hmong International, broke away from the larger organization reportedly because some were upset at how money from the event was being spent.
But organizers of the fairgrounds celebration say there should only be one new year's celebration.
"I don't know why this year there will be two, I don't understand. I would like to have only one for the Hmong people and the community," said Herr.
Many people we spoke with say they plan to attend both events during the week-long celebration. Both feature the usual traditions like singing, dancing, and the ball toss - a courtship game, different sports competitions, and of course, the traditional Hmong food.