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Mekong Night Festival Calls for Vendors, Community Support

Thursday, June 6, 2024
McKenna Scherer, photos by Andrea Paulseth | VolumeOne

ahead of the third annual cultural fest in River Prairie, organizers seek community partners, volunteers, and vendors


THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM. Returning for its anticipated third year, the Mekong Night Festival is ramping up for even more diverse food and beverage options, arts, and game vendors for its August event, alongside community support.

What began as a pilot project born from the 2021 HERE National Conference has become an anticipated community event: The Third Annual Mekong Night Festival will bring new activities, food vendors, and arts vendors to Altoona's River Prairie in August.

Planned by the Hmong American Leadership & Economic Development organization (HALED) in partnership with the City of Altoona and emergency services - who will bring the firetruck and simulators! - the Mekong Night Festival already has 10 diverse food vendors confirmed, and they're still looking for more. They are also seeking more arts and crafts vendors as well as more community partners.

"One thing we're really trying to push this year is, we are calling on community partners to get involved," said Mai Xiong, the festival's committee chairperson. "We enjoy the event so much and want to keep doing it, so we'd love to gain more financial support and of course, volunteer support."

Xiong said the festival's committee has been planning for the Saturday, Aug. 26, event since last December. It truly takes efforts from across the community to bring the full day and night worth of activities to fruition, and in its first two years, the event was a bigger hit than they imagined.

"We didn't think it was to be as huge of a hit as it has been," Xiong said. "(HALED's) mission is to really bridge the cultural gap among our diverse communities, and through these kinds of events and activities, we hope to build more inclusivity."

This August's festival will also return with a weightlifting competition, music and dance performances, and of course, delicious food and drinks. Another unique feature at the night market is the Floating Lanterns and Lantern Launch, the only activity participants pay to participate in, with funds going directly back to the event.

"We're hoping to keep growing and our goal is to hopefully bring a taste of the world to Eau Claire," Xiong said.

Folks who want to get involved - as day-of volunteers to staff the carnival games and activities, direct traffic flow in River Prairie, or help with planning - are invited to reach out to Xiong at haledmailbox@gmail.com or (715) 210-6241. There are several options for community partners and sponsorships through the Mekong Night Festival, including booths and exhibits, financial partners, and more.

For food and merchandise or workshops vendors, registration information and more can be found online. The event organizers provide technical support and marketing efforts ahead of the festival to support the small and emerging businesses who take part in it.

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Learn more about HALED and the Mekong Night Festival's vendor opportunities online • The 2024 Mekong Night Festival will be Saturday, Aug. 26, from 11am-11pm at River Prairie Park, Altoona • Reach out with inquiries at haledmailbox@gmail.com

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