The Hmong community is coming together this weekend in Minnesota to celebrate its culture, heritage and 40 years in the U.S. as part of the annual Hmong Freedom Celebration, also known as J4, for July 4.
According to MPR News, this is one of the largest annual festivals in Minnesota, drawing thousands to Como Park in St. Paul with attendees coming from around the world.
Festival-goers will enjoy an entertainment stage, talent showcases, Hmong food and the Miss Hmong Teen Pageant, the event website says. The sporting events include soccer, flag football, volleyball and traditional Hmong sports such as Kato and Tujlub.
The festival CEO tells MPR that flag football is an example of the American influence on sports that younger Hmong enjoy playing.
On another note, it's the first year in the 35-year history of the festival that alcohol is available, the Pioneer Press reports.
Hmong in Minnesota
Hmong refugees began came to Minnesota in 1975 from southeast Asia amidst the the Communist takeover of Laos during the Vietnam War.
Recent census estimates say there are almost 80,000 Hmong living in the state, out of around 285,000 living throughout the U.S.
At the opening ceremony for the event, a moment of silence marked this anniversary, the Pioneer Press reports.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the Hmong arriving in Minnesota, the Minnesota History Center has a "We Are Hmong in Minnesota" exhibit, which runs until Nov. 29. The J4 festival runs through Sunday, July 5.
Here are some posts from the event: