Hundreds gather for Vietnamese Tet celebration after rain delay

Hundreds flocked to an open lot on the corner of Stockton Boulevard and Florin Road on Saturday to celebrate the Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, which falls on Jan. 31, the same lunar calendar date as Chinese New Year.

The Tet festival, held by the Vietnamese American Community of Sacramento, was slated for last weekend but was shifted because of rain. This time, festival-goers had clear skies for playing carnival games and eating traditional Vietnamese delicacies like banh mi sandwiches and pandan waffles.

Sacramento resident Phillip Nguyan attended the festival with his two sons, who were demonstrating a Vietnamese style of karate with instructors from the Vietnamese Community Center, which opened in July.

“We try to keep the Vietnamese culture going for the young kids,” he said. “Hopefully they will carry on our heritage.”

The Vietnamese American Community of Sacramento also organized a Tet parade through Little Saigon, along Stockton Boulevard from Fruitridge Plaza to Florin Road.

This is the eighth year in a row that the community organization has planned Tet festivities. Sacramento County’s Vietnamese population of 25,030 in the 2010 census makes it the 11th-largest such community in the United States. Orange County and Santa Clara County place first and second, respectively.

Mimi Dao, an Elk Grove resident who heard about the festival while searching online for Asian food, explained that Tet is one of the biggest holidays for Vietnamese people. While eating nem (meat on a stick), she reminisced about years past when she would get red envelopes from her parents bearing good wishes for the New Year.

“I celebrate through food,” Dao said. “It’s really nice that this is here and that it’s free.”