Hmong Wausau Festival

Yingyee Xiong, Online Editor

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The Wausau Hmong committee hosted a Hmong Wausau Festival on July 29-30 celebrating the arts, sports, and traditional music at Eastbay Marathon County Sports Complex.

The festival itself was a celebration and event where the Hmong community could gather together, Yee Leng Xiong said, the chairperson of the festival.

“The Hmong Wausau Festival was an event that we were hoping to achieve a few things,” said Yee Leng Xiong. “It was to shed light on athletes in the Southeast Asian Community; promote the diversity and cultural heritage in Marathon County; and bring tourism into Central Wisconsin.”

“There were Hmong Festivals that were held previously in Wausau by different organizations, but it grew rapidly and Wausau did not have a place to hold such a huge event,” said Tha Ying Xiong, senior at D. C. Everest Senior High School who was apart of the committee and was the pageant coordinator for the festival.  “When the East Bay Sports Complex opened, it was then that the dream of having another festival sparked to life.”

The festival was not an overnight process. It took days, months, and years to plan, said Tha Ying Xiong.

Girls Football Team, Phantoms Girls Football Team, Phantoms Front row from left: Pajtshia Yang, Mai Nhia vang, Julia lee, Maimee Vang, Malee Ly, Vatou lay, Tommy lee. Second row  from left: Kaohly Lee, Anna Xiong, Pa Ying Yang, Morgan Lee, Yee Lee. Third row from left: Ywj Siab Yang, Megan lee, Mango lee, Kristy Moua, Megan Lee, Ka Yang, Chersa Ly.

Girls Football Team, Phantoms
Front row from left: Pajtshia Yang, Mai Nhia vang, Julia lee, Maimee Vang, Malee Ly, Vatou lay, Tommy lee.
Second row from left: Kaohly Lee, Anna Xiong, Pa Ying Yang, Morgan Lee, Yee Lee.
Third row from left: Ywj Siab Yang, Megan lee, Mango lee, Kristy Moua, Megan Lee, Ka Yang, Chersa Ly.

“The idea of the festival was originally brought up back in 2014,” said Yee Leng Xiong. “However, because of the lack of funding and the lack of resources, the event was postponed going through three chairpersons until it was handed to my committee and I.”

Over 8,000 people attended the festival throughout the two day event, with a total of 1,300 hotel rooms booked that weekend, and a total economic impact of over one million dollars in one weekend, said Yee Leng Xiong.

“The Hmong Wausau Festival received a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. We used the money to tap into Hmong media outlets such as Suab Hmong News and 3HmoobTV,” said Yee Leng Xiong.

95.5 WIFC had reported that over half of the attendance at the festival was from outside of Marathon County.

Many came from Green Bay, Stevens Point, Oshkosh, Eau Claire, and Minnesota to participate in sports and performances.

“Wausau and Marathon County is a very progressive and strong community,” said Yee Leng Xiong. “The community at large is very supportive of the Hmong community. Due to our centralized location, we were able to attract people from Minnesota, Michigan, and from all across Wisconsin. This was a huge advantage for us.”

There were volleyball tournaments, soccer tournaments, and flag football tournaments, each with female and male divisions except for soccer.

Along with sports tournaments, there were singing competitions, dancing competitions, as well as a Mr. Hmong Royalty Pageant, said Yee Leng Xiong.

Hmong traditional dance group: Nthxais Npau Suav  From left: Epiphany Yang, Mai Xiong, Ungalee Xiong, Ka Lia Vang, Chong Her

Hmong traditional dance group: Nthxais Npau Suav 
From left: Epiphany Yang, Mai Xiong, Ungalee Xiong, Ka Lia Vang, Chong Her

Mai Xiong, one of the winners of the raffle awards

Mai Xiong, one of the winners for the raffle drawing at the Hmong Wausau Festival

 

Vendors sold traditional Hmong clothes, toys, and other goods for those who enjoy walking around.

 Gao Shoua Thao ran a food stand at the Wausau Hmong Tournament and served Hmong sausages, meatballs, papaya, and a drink called nava her most popular dish was the papaya salad.

Thao said that it was her first time running a stand at a tournament and she received great support from her family.

“Running a food stand is fun and an opportunity to meet new people. You can see and learn more things about the tournament,” said Thao.

Lee Vang, sophomore at D. C. Everest took part in the Hmong Festival by helping with the food stand that belonged to her sister-in-law, Thao.

Yingyee Xiong in a bubble soccer

Yingyee Xiong in a bubble soccer

“The Hmong Festival was fun. There was flag football, soccer, volleyball, booths where they sold goods, and a performance stage, ” said Vang. “My favorite activity was bubble soccer.”

Yee Leng Xiong, the chairman and coordinator for the Hmong Wausau Festival hopes to make the festival an annual tradition.

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