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Monday, August 26, 2013

Festival celebrates Vietnamese culture

The lion dance.
Culture, arts, and cuisine of the three regions of Vietnam were showcased at VietFest 2013 at Landmark Mall this weekend.

The second annual celebration was aimed at reaching out to the younger generation of Vietnamese Americans and the broader community, said the organizer, Daniel Albert. The first VietFest last year drew 6,000 people, and he was hopeful that this year’s larger festival would attract even more.

Miss VietFest contestants Thien Trang Vu of Burke, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University (in white) and Lizzy Nguen of Fairfax (in blue), a student at the University of Virginia, with some younger friends.

In addition to all the fun activities—including eating contests, talent shows, ping pong, kid’s games, and much more—the festival honored American Vietnam War veterans and drew several political candidates, including Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor.

A highlight of the event was the lion dance, which is usually performed at New Year’s celebrations. The lion dance “brings joy and luck to the community,” said Tommy Le, the group’s leader and drummer, a member of the Air Force who’s originally from Houston.

The lion dance team.
The guys who performed the lion dance—which featured one yellow and two red lions—are members of Boy Scout troop 612, an all-Vietnamese troop based in Falls Church that is part of the Boy Scout’s international section.

Justin Darrow of Washington, D.C., said, "I feel fine," after winning $100 in a pho eating contest at VietFest. He finished two bowls of pho in one minute and 27 seconds in a competition based on speed, rather than quantity. Darrow has previously won steak and pasta eating contests.
A martial arts group demonstrates self-defense techniques.
Crawfish from New Orleans Cajun Seafood in Falls Church.
A performance by kids in the Bright Star dance group.
Fairfax Counter Sheriff candidate Stacey Kinkaid (center) talks to voters.
People feed the lions money and fruit for good luck.
Mang cau (in foreground) and dragon fruit (pink).

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