The Vietnamese community in Fort Smith will usher in the New Year on Feb. 9 at a “Vietnamese New Year, the Year of the Snake” Festival.
Festivities will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith in the gymnasium/field house at 5004 Kinkead Ave.
Sponsoring the free event are UAFS, the Vietnamese Association of Fort Smith and the Surrounding Areas, the Vietnamese Community Seniors of Fort Smith and the Surrounding Areas, the Association of Former Governmental Employees and Servicemen & Servicewomen of the Republic of Vietnam and Former Prisoners of War.
“One of the highlights of the festival will be the traditional opening of the ceremony by elders in the community asking for blessings for everyone and for a blessed New Year,” said Alex Nguyen, coordinator for the event.
According to Nguyen, the snake is considered a symbol of wisdom and intelligence and 2013 is believed to be a year of prosperity and peace.
Included will be cultural performances, the dragon dance and traditional food and drink.
“You will see Vietnamese people in traditional clothing,” said Nguyen, “and the dragon dance is a celebratory dance that is performed every New Year.”
Nguyen said last year’s event was standing room only with more than 400 in attendance, and he expects the same popularity at UAFS this year.
“We are extremely grateful for the University’s support,” he said. “Without it we could not have this annual event.”
The activity is offered through the International Relations Office at UAFS. Vinh Pham is the president of the Vietnamese Association of Fort Smith and Surrounding Areas.
Although registration is not required, those attending are asked to contact Alex Nguyen, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 479-459-8199 to be counted as attending. For more information about international programs at UAFS, contact Takeo Suzuki, executive director of international relations, by email at email@example.com, or by telephone at 479-788-7166.