After A Two-Year Hiatus, The Hmong International Freedom Festival Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary
By Lacey G. Souldier Turner
Festivals are usually events celebrated by a community and centered around certain aspects and cultures. They are times for rejoicing and coming together to embrace and share stories and experiences. These events contribute immensely to feelings of social cohesion and maintaining unity between one another. When it comes to those characteristics and exemplifying a level of excellence, there is none greater than the Hmong International Freedom Festival also known as J4. After a lengthy two-year setback due to the COVID pandemic. The mask mandate has been lifted and this year’s amazing Hmong International Freedom Festival will celebrate its 40th Anniversary. This monumental event will be held on July 2nd and July 3rd.
This year’s festival holds a little more importance to it than in the past. We all have felt the brunt of this epidemic. The rollercoaster ride of COVID halted the progression of this exceptional event in 2020 and 2021. Before the pandemic hit, The Hmong International Freedom Festival was flourishing in every aspect imaginable. The festival was founded over 40 years ago marking the Hmong immigration into the United States. The Hmong people didn’t have their own country and originally came from China with over 4,000 years of history. After the treacherous experiences fighting with and supporting the United States during the Vietnam War, and a lengthy battle fighting for a better life, the U.S. became a new home for the Hmong people and granted them freedom.
The Hmong International Freedom Festival is back, and it will be starting off the 4th of July holiday with a bang in St. Paul. It is an annual event held at McMurray Fields at Como Park. It features an incredible soccer tournament, as well as other competitive sports such as Volleyball, Flag Football, Kab Tob, Tuj Lub, and Cornhole. There will be plenty of exciting activities to capture the hearts and minds of the community, along with fantastic vendors that will provide an unforgettable shopping experience as they will have delicious foods and traditional Hmong goods for sale.
The Hmong International Freedom Festival is put on by The United Hmong Family, Inc. which is a non-profit organization that developed because they wanted to represent the Hmong community and celebrate the roots of this unique culture. They exist to preserve cultural identity through intergenerational collaboration, involvement of the Hmong clan structure, and youth leadership. They aspire to create a collaborative future that includes all, regardless of gender, age, race, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation, continuously invent a system or structure that works to better serve the changing community and build transparency through the nurturing of community-based relationships.
As everything begins to open back up and social distancing restrictions are being lifted and CDC guidelines are being loosened; The United Hmong Family, Inc. is taking the necessary steps to ensure the festival is safe for all people that attend. Many have been vaccinated to ensure the safety of all the volunteers and partners. This is the number one priority, and The United Hmong Family, Inc. is adamant about making sure each person attending the festivities has a great time. The goal of this year’s festival is to bring that traditional feel back. When spectators didn’t mind being in the unforgiving heat. Where people young and old enjoyed being in the presence of one another, and family, friends, and attendees from in and out of state enjoyed the entertainment and attractions that the festival had to offer. The festival strives to duplicate those smiles and laughter that were on display before COVID arrived. This friendly environment has always exhibited a level of professionalism and groundbreaking talent.
This is an event that you don’t want to miss. Packed with nothing but excitement and a weekend full of entertainment. Bear witness to the Hmong culture and the intricate clothing that will be on display. Set your eyes on the talent as you prepare to be overwhelmed by the unique style of dance from the Hmong traditions. Come and be a part of the largest outdoor Hmong event in the Midwest. Minnesota has the second largest population of Hmong in the United States – trailing only California. The festival is known for attracting over 30,000 people a day.
Hmong International Freedom Festival will be held Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3rd, 2022
Location: Como Park, McMurray Fields
1155 Jessamine Avenue W
St. Paul, MN 55117