Chinatown welcomes Chinese New Year with Flower Market Fair

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Chelsea Chang

Lion dancers parade through the streets before the ceremony begins.

Chinatown came to life as dragons danced their way through packed streets during the Chinese New Year Flower Marker Fair.

The Flower Market Fair is an annual two-day event that takes place on the weekend before Chinese New Year’s Day, or Jan. 25. The fair is a smaller event that precedes San Francisco’s popular Chinese New Year Festival and Parade.

The streets were filled with attendees and over 120 booths and concessions. Vendors sold a wide range of items, from staple Chinese New Year items, such as fruits and flowers, to popcorn and clothes.

Each year, the fair attracts many newcomers, ranging from volunteers to regular participants. Mandy Yu and Michelle Wu, both freshmen, were volunteering for the first time. Despite the cold, they were excited to work together and watch the lions.

“Michelle is obsessed with the lions,” Yu said. “She thinks they are cute.”

Some attendees return year after year. For some, the fair has played a part in their Chinese New Year preparations for decades.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Queena Chen, the master of ceremonies (MC) of the fair, has been a participant since she could remember.

“This is almost like a family tradition,” Chen said. “Ever since I was young, I always came to the Flower Market Fair to prepare for Chinese New Year.”

Chen said it was a great honor to MC the Flower Market Fair. Being able to stand on the stage was something she never expected.

“As I am getting older, I am trying to find ways to continue connecting with my community. I think that is why it is super important that I am here doing this,” Chen said.

However, Chen is also worried about the future of the Flower Market Fair and Chinatown’s similar events.

“There are a lot of cultural aspects that are disappearing; many people do not follow the old Chinese traditions anymore. I want to make sure that we still have these traditions for the coming generations,” Chen said.

Despite her concerns, the fair’s popularity remained as strong as ever, and participants walked through Chinatown with smiles. Some were excited to see what next year would bring.

Although many of the fair’s vendors and attendees differ from year to year, the fair’s purpose remains the same: to help participants prepare for Chinese New Year.

Eric Cullen, an attendee, said, “I think it is really wonderful that everybody comes out and there is a sense of community. It is a very positive atmosphere for everyone.”

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