Two people sit at the center of the festival street on plastic stools – iconic to the Vietnamese Street food scene. Photo by Carmen Hom

On August 20, 2022, the nonprofit Friends of Little Saigon hosted the 11th Annual “Celebrate Little Saigon” event, bringing neighbors and visitors together to eat, drink, and celebrate Vietnamese community and culture. This event was only one of many activities occurring in the Chinatown-International District (CID) on this particular Saturday; it was coordinated in conjunction with CID Block Party, Hai Japantown, CID Food Walk, and SAAFF Summer Cinema. Streets across the CID were filled to the brim with people hopping from one event after another, helping create a day-long vibrant and lively atmosphere. 

Valerie Tran, who leads Friends of Little Saigon, shared with the IE why it was important for the neighborhood to host this event: 

“This festival is meant to celebrate the Vietnamese community, and celebrate the culture through food, entertainment, and music. It’s a way to bring people back to the neighborhood here; it’s been a really rough couple of years during the pandemic. We’re always in awe of how many people show up – despite having been isolated.” 

A striking street mural of blue, green, and orange highlighted both the festival boundaries and S King St, an important neighborhood connection to Chinatown. Zooming in on the colorful patterns, one would see motifs of Plumeria (Hoa sứ), Madagascar Periwinkle (dừa cạn), and Morning Glory (hoa rau) – three flora found in Vietnam. The vibrancy of this street art also serves another purpose – as a traffic calming measure – that will hopefully slow vehicles down in this intersection where there is both a high school and a residential building. The mural served as the prominent centerpiece of “Celebrate Little Saigon” and will continue to brightly light this area of this neighborhood. 

All photos by Carmen Hom.

Larger than life poster board of Three Crabs Fish Sauce – a staple in Thai and Vietnamese cooking, with artwork by Hannah Pham. Photo by Carmen Hom
Staff of Friends of Little Saigon, the nonprofit organizing “Celebrate Little Saigon”, stand in front of Beam Alley. Pictured from left to right: Quynh Pham, Anh Nguyen, Valerie Tran, Kenney Tran, and Dakota Billops-Breaux. Photo by Carmen Hom
Hannah Pham, artist and designer of the marketplace columns in Beam Alley, sells earrings featuring symbols of Vietnamese nostalgia: Three Crabs Fish Sauce, Squid Brand Fish Sauce, and Longevity Condensed Milk. Photo by Carmen Hom
A man throws up a peace sign and smiles at the camera in the center of the festival street.
Photo by Carmen Hom
Lynwood-based bakery Coco Pandan offering Southeast Asian desserts to a customer. Photo by Carmen Hom
Diya Magic offering a Tarot Reading to a festival attendee. Photo by Carmen Hom

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