By TOM LAVENTURE
AAP staff writer
PLYMOUTH, Minn. (Jan. 23, 2010) – The Vietnamese Community of Minnesota celebrated the 2010 Tet Festival last Saturday at Armstrong High School in Plymouth.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson started out the event with a welcome, followed by an ancestral blessing ceremony performed by community elders and the Dragon Dance performed by Hung Vuong Association of Minnesota.
Liz Phan. the Events Chair and Vice President of External Affairs for VCM, said that despite the bitter freezing rain, the Tet still drew thousands of people to celebrate and show their love for the Vietnamese Community here in Minnesota.
“You can feel the heated excitement and see the joy in their faces in the packed auditorium and hallways,” said Phan.
The new contests this year such as the Pho Eating Contest and All-Star Kids Contest and brought in new audiences, she added.
The Pho eating contest, sponsored by Pho Hoa of Minneapolis, produced three winners, Viet Pham, 1st, Trung Tu, 2nd, and Chi Pham, 3rd.
The Vietnamese Idol for 2010 is Lam Nguyen. Kiet Huynh won 2nd place, and MaiLan Dang took 3rd.
“The organizers made a push this year to garner more participation from young adults – teens and college students, and I am happy to say that it worked,” said Leah Tran, coordinator of the Vietnamese Idol contest. “Most of the contestants were in their late teens or early twenties.”
Tran said that 26 people participated in the semifinals that were held at Hoa Bien Restaurant in St. Paul, which owner Linda Do made available to them at no cost.
“It was great to see the talent that we have in the community,” said Tran. “In typical settings, you wouldn’t see the contestants singing. They’re typically going about their daily lives, so to see them step out of their usual routine and sing with such enthusiasm and passion was wonderful to see.”
Elisa Le was the Vietnamese All Star Kids contest coordinator.
Hoa Vicky Quach won first place, followed by Thy Angelica Nguyen and Trinity Shi.
The Hoa Hau Miss Ao Dai for 2010 is Nguyen Thi Yen Kim. The First Runner Up is Nguyen Ngoc Thien Thanh. The Second Runner Up is Huynh ThuAn. The Miss Congeniality honors went to Nguyen Le Jenny.
Event Sponsor Tam Chau of State Farm Insurance said the event was well organized.
“I look forward to this event every year,” said Chau. “I feel that this event gives the younger generation a chance to get to know their culture a little better without having to go very far away.
“It gives long lost friends, acquaintances and business associates a chance meet and have fun – some of whom might not be able to meet without an event such as this,” he added. “In this busy culture, this might be the only time all year they get to gather in this relaxed setting.”
In the Sports Competition, the Volleyball winners were Bad Boyz, followed by Power Rangers and Airborn.
Tri Phan and Tuong Tu won the Tennis Doubles competition, followed by Thai Ngo and Hung Dang.
In Bowling, the Hung Vuong Association of Minnesota took top honors, followed by FIFA BOWL. The Best Female Bowler was Hoang Anh Nguyen from Hung Vuong Association. The Best Male Bowler was Vu Vang of FIFA BOWL.
The first exhibit upon entering the event was the Hung Vuong Association of Minnesota table with Ngu Duong, who talked about his work to make Republic of Vietnam flags for anyone who needs them. He makes pendants and paper flags along with official fabric flags to fly outside on the pole.
Mr. Duong talked to guests about the origin and legitimacy of the yellow flag with three red stripes according to Vietnamese history.
Julia Nguyen, vice president of the Minnesota Amerasian Society, was present to talk about the new organization and its purpose as a support and advocacy group for a generation of American-Vietnamese people that have a disadvantaged life in their homeland and their new country.
“We are helping to get Amerasians citizenship, as many of them came here without the opportunity to have an education and have difficulty learning the English language as a result,” said Nguyen. “In their homeland they have little opportunity.”
Dr. Nguyen, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, said the organization goals are to first help Amerasians come to the United States, then to help them get citizenship, transition to self-sufficiency and deal with possible trauma and psychological issues, and also to advocate for support and policies.
Above she said, the organization is there to help people connect and to provide emotional support and networking. They hope to have a web site up soon at www.vietnamese-amerasian-society.org.
There was also plenty of food and cultural exhibits along with youth activities.
The staff of Kim Ahn Deli enjoyed their second year serving traditional foods including ban mi and steamed buns as a food vender at the Tet New Year. The year and a half old Brooklyn Park restaurant is owned by owned by Lynn Nguyen.
There was also New Year’s Gala Formal dance later that night at Hoa Bien restaurant in St. Paul. Popular singer Luong Tung Quang was a featured entertainer.