by Cindy Gonzalez, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The 33rd Annual Hmong Freedom Celebration will take place at Como Park at St. Paul this weekend.
Visitors can expect more than 80 food booths selling traditional Hmong food, live entertainment, sports competitions and a teen pageant.
The celebration has come a long way, said Neng Lee, the event's sports coordinator.
"This is a family picnic when we started like 33 years ago," Lee said. "Less than 200 people - but now we have about 30,000 people per day, which is really good. And 30 years ago we never thought ... that this event would become this big."
The Lao Family Community of Minnesota is a nonprofit that helps put together the event. Admission is $5; children under 3 and people over 65 will be admitted for free.
The Lao Family Community also sponsored a team from Thailand to visit Minnesota and compete in a Hmong-traditional sport called Hmoob Tuj Lub.
Lee emphasized that the celebration is meant for everyone.
"I would like to invite the neighbor and friends and community out there to attend this event," Lee said, "because this event is not for the Hmong people, it is for the community. Come and see all kinds of sports and to enjoy the soccer games and to test all kinds of food that the vendors have. It will be really good food this year."