Known as J4, the event commemorates the Hmong immigration from Laos to the United States. Each year, the festival draws larger and larger crowds, multigenerational in nature, and hailing from all around the globe. Many of those who’ve attended since they were kids now bring their own children. It’s considered to be the largest such event of its kind in the world today.
The various athletic fields dominated Como Park’s McMurray Field, perfect for viewing the weekend’s many competitive sporting events – men’s and women’s flag football, soccer, and volleyball; senior soccer; Sepak takraw (kato); and tuj lub or top spinning. The low hills surrounding the athletic fields were dotted with tents and booths where visitors could sample traditional cuisine, including the delicious papaya salad (there was a competition to select the best version of it, too); cultural and educational items; children’s toys; and other merchandise.
From the stages interspersed throughout the park, local musicians performed both contemporary and traditional music. After they finished their sets, many sold CDs of their music to their fans. The stages were also the site of several beauty pageants to find and crown a Freedom Festival princess.
As sponsors, First Financial Security, Inc. was given two booths to use throughout the weekend. Two huge banners topped the booths and proclaimed First Financial Security was Changing the Face of Insurance.TM Members of FFS’ field force manned the booths and did a brisk business both days. They answered questions and passed out information, bags and green visors to people who stopped by the booths. With the sun shining brightly both July 4 and 5, the green FFS visors were a popular giveaway.
One of the exciting things about being a sponsor was being able to participate in the Hmong International Freedom Celebration parade.
“It was great to be a sponsor of this important event,” Executive Field Chairman Thao Thai said. “We had an opportunity to march in the opening parade and participate in the opening ceremonies.
“The response we received from the people attending the festival was tremendous. It was important for us to say thank you to our community and let them know how much we’ve appreciated their support and business throughout the years. But most importantly, we wanted them to know First Financial Security, Inc. is strong, sound and here to stay.”