The Hmong Sports Festival returns again to St. Paul for the 29th year. The festival draws Hmong families from all across the US as a celebration of their freedom combining with the celebration of our Nation’s freedom. An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people will attend this very popular event sponsored by the Lao Family Community of Minnesota.
St. Paul’s McMurray Fields have been the host for this Hmong Freedom Celebration for nearly 30 years and soccer has always been the main attraction. However, there are many other sports included in the competition such as volleyball, flag football, kato, tennis, top spin, badminton, basketball, bowling and golf. 1,400 athletes will participate making this the largest ethnic sporting event in the country.
Kato is an exciting sport played with a softball sized reed-woven ball and played like volleyball but only the feet and head may be used.
Top spinning is truly “tops” that are spinning. They are usually tops that are hand carved or lathed with the prize awarded to the top that spins the longest.
Soccer is still the top draw at the festival and the newly laid fill-turf fields at McMurray make this an excellent venue for this event. There will be 40 teams from across the US participating as well as our own Majiks FC team, who won the tournament in 2007, and the well known Twin Stars, who were champions in 2004 and 2005.
Over $60,000.00 will be handed out in prize money to the winners of these competitions.
There will also be food, arts, crafts and music. Interestingly, as the Hmong have assimilated into US communities the vendors have shifted as well selling more mainstream foods and goods. However, the emphasis is still on tradition.
$4.00 gets you into the event and those over 65 or under 3 are free. Free parking and shuttle service is available at the State Fair Grounds. This is a great opportunity to take in some world culture and fill your soccer void at the same time.
For directions go here.