An Unexpected Trip to UVSA’s Tet Festival

ISSE Long Beach just happened to be the same weekend as the Tết Festival held in Garden Grove, Calif. (20 minutes away from Long Beach). I invited anyone who was willing to accompany me to head down to Little Saigon to attend the festival. Held by the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (UVSA), a highly-spirited, dedicated, and hard-working group of mostly high school and college students, this Tết Festival is the largest Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival in the world held outside of Vietnam filled with traditional and modern food, games, and entertainment.

I passed by a booth owned by Lexor, whose corporate offices are located not too far from the festival. They have been a proud sponsor of UVSA’s Tet Festival for many years. For a few hours each day, Lexor turned their booth into a photo booth for photo ops. Visitors were able to pick out cards that carried their zodiac signs and take photos in Lexor’s Lumnious pedicure spa chairs. The photos were printed and given to visitors as a Year of the Dragon souvenir. Lexor's Jennifer Nguyen holds a "My friend is a Dragon" sign with a friend who just happened to be born in the Year of the Dragon.

Here's a photo of Nguyễn Hằng Ny, the winner of the Miss Vietnam of Southern California pageant, at the Lexor booth. The pageant was held on the first night of the festival.

In the heart of the festival was Làng Việt Nam, a cultural village built from scratch by various student groups. Here I am drinking tea in a hut constructed out of dried banana leaves.

And here I am selling bread.

There was even a (plastic) fish market.

Vietnamese calligraphy.

Old friends from the college days working as the operations team made sure the festival ran smoothly.

I’m so glad I had the chance to attend.

— Kim

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