Photo depicting two singers wearing brightly colored Cambodian-inspired New Year's clothing performing on stage.

PHOTO ESSAY | Year of the Rabbit: Celebrating Cambodian New Year in White Center

by Ronnie Estoque

Last Saturday, April 29, community members unified for the 20th Annual White Center Cambodian New Year Street Festival. The event was organized by the Cambodian Cultural Alliance of Washington, and featured live musical performances, delicious traditional cuisine, dancing, vendors, and plenty of smiles and laughter on a day where the sun shone brightly.

Sophia Som manages Outreach and Social Media for the Cambodian Cultural Alliance of Washington, and helped organize the event alongside Pharin Kong, Sophal Hamaker, Savuth Som, Ley Soy, Vichea Neav, Jenny Tisa, Sopha Danh, Charm Sok, Vuthy Nouv, Robert Mark, Chanphally Tan, and Mary Tieng.

“This is our 20th annual street festival. It’s important to us because a majority of our members have been planning and celebrating for 20 years, since 2003,” Som said. “The longevity of it all is proof to the community and to us that with commitment, shared values and missions, anything can withstand time.”

Organizers began planning the event last September, with monthly meetings occurring virtually until January, when the group began to meet in the Joe Thomas Room at the YWCA Greenbridge. Their organization hopes the event instilled a sense of unity, resiliency, and inclusion within the Cambodian community and surrounding area.

“We hope that for future events and festivals, we are able to make it better and better to accommodate the growing crowd,” Som said.

“We also have hopes to showcase more of local community artists, vendors and performances, and also we hope to expand the festival to a larger block,” Som said. “We hope it will showcase the diverse community White Center has to offer.”

Photo depicting a line of people waiting to purchase food from a food stall.
People line up to purchase their Cambodian food plates outside of Samway Market. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Photo depicting elders wearing brightly colored traditional dress sitting at the Khmer Community of Seattle-King County booth.
Elders from the Khmer Community of Seattle King County tabling at the event. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Photo depicting an individual in a sun hat cooking Cambodian food on a grill while people are queued up in the background.
Event attendees ordering food from On A Roll Asian Food Truck. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Photo depicting individuals holding out paper plates piled with Cambodian food.
Several plates of Cambodian classics. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Photo depicting two Asian-presenting women posing for a photo while wearing SEA "Cambodian Certified" T-shirts.
SEA Seattle Certified was one of the clothing vendors at the street fair. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Photo depicting festival-goers wearing brightly colored traditional dress having a good time.
Festival-goers celebrating in the sun. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Photo depicting individuals playing Bos Angkunh.
Community members play the traditional Cambodian game “Bos Angkunh.” “Bos” is “to throw” and “Angkunh” is the name of a dried fruit from a climbing plant in Cambodia. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Photo depicting a group of individuals in brightly colored New Year's garb celebrating over a game of Bos Angkunh.
Another scene from the “Bos Angkunh” game. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.

📸 Featured Image: Lively performances of traditional Cambodian music kept the crowd energized and dancing during the event. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)

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