The lunar calendar followed in many East Asian cultures says 2009 is the year of the ox, though those headed to the local Tet new year celebration this weekend likely have beef broth pho soup, pork-stuffed banh mi sandwiches (pictured at left) and shrimp spring rolls on their minds.
Mary Queen of Vietnam church will once again be the setting for this large, family-oriented community celebration, held each year on its expansive festival grounds in far eastern New Orleans.
As at any good festival, food is a highlight and here visitors will find huge tents lined with tables for communal dining and various booths selling traditional Vietnamese dishes. A great many Heineken beers are dispatched by adults while kids typically run helter-skelter through the grounds blasting each other with Silly String.
There are bands, fashion shows of traditional Vietnamese garb, children's games, crafts and imported merchandise for sale and more huge tents packed to the edges with people playing games of chance (pictured below).
The festival, at 14001 Dwyer Blvd., (map), begins tonight, Jan. 30, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and continues on Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.
-- Ian McNulty