After nearly two decades, the Hmong International New Year Foundation will no longer be hosting the Hmong New Year Festival at the Fresno Fairgrounds.
Fairground officials said a new group, Hmong Cultural New Year Celebration, Inc., will replace the foundation as the organizers of the massive New Year celebration. The week-long event attracts more than 100,000 people from around the world for traditional ball tossing games, food, beauty pageants and dance competitions. It is the largest Hmong New Year festival in the U.S.
Lauri King, deputy manager of the The Big Fresno Fair, said the Hmong Cultural New Year Celebration won the request for proposal with a high bid of $250,000.
King said that group approached the fair last year about wanting the opportunity to host a Hmong New Year event at the fairgrounds.
“We had no other interest in organizing it until they came forward so we drafted a request a proposal with certain guidelines and each interested party submitted their proposals,” King said. “And the group with the high score won.”
The Hmong New Year festival at the Fresno Fairgrounds is the largest such festival in the U.S.
King said the new group plans to put on a New Year event similar to what’s been done in the past.
Although it won’t be hosting New Year’s at the fairgrounds, the Hmong International New Year Foundation vows to also host a celebration at another venue.
The foundation posted a message on its Facebook page late last month saying: “Hmong International New Year Foundation, Inc. would like to state that we are moving forward with plans to conduct a New Year Celebration just as we have since 1998. We plan to make every year bigger and better.”
A location for the new celebration has not been announced and officials could not be reached for comment. If their plans are successful, Fresno will be home to possibly three Hmong New Year celebrations in Fresno.
For the past several years, the United Hmong Council has organized a New Year event at Calwa Park on East Church Avenue, just west of Maple Avenue.