Fresno, California (KFSN) — The bleak skies did not match the bright colors and patterns of traditional Hmong costumes seen at the Fresno Fairgrounds.
“Welcome to the party. Beautiful weather. A little bit of rain, but great weather,” says Long Beach resident May Vue.
Thousands of people from all over the world gathered to participate in the country’s largest Hmong New Year festival.
Visitors learned about the experience of the Hmong community through four days of pageants, dining, dancing, live music, and the Hmong Story Legacy Vinay exhibit.
“To tell the story of the Hmong who came to Thailand from Laos,” said Mitch Ha, president of the Hmong Cultural New Year Celebration. “To tell everyone not to forget your past.”
Organizers say the traditions passed down through generations provide a great sense of cultural identity and unity.
“It’s the best way to preserve our culture and pass it on to our sons and daughters,” says Herr. “This is the best way you can show and show them who you are and the power of your culture.”
Among the many delicious restaurants, you’ll find sisters Kara and Jamie Lee putting a modern twist on traditional dishes.
Everything on the Stick debuted among vendors at this year’s festival.
“We have chicken wings, pork belly Hmong sausage, American sausage, egg rolls, sticky rice and banana leaves,” says Calla Lee of Everything on a Stick.
The best seller was, of course, the beef skewers.
The brothers grew up attending the Hmong cultural New Year with their families. This inspired the concept.
“So we want to evolve with society and evolve with culture,” says Jamie Lee.
“I find it really hard to find a seat to eat, so I thought, ‘Why don’t we make food out of sticks and eat them while walking?'” says Kara Lee.
Now that they’re on the business side of the celebration, they’ve come to develop a newfound appreciation for the organizers and vendors who have made their childhood Hmong New Year’s experience worth repeating.
“You come in and are here to enjoy and enjoy the food, but vendors are here as a business,” says Jamie Lee. It’s about making sure you’re getting the best product ever.”
For now, “Everything on the Stick” is only available for private events, but the hope is to open a food truck or storefront.
You can follow their journey on Facebook or Instagram.
Copyright © 2023 KFSN-TV. All rights reserved.