The Debut of .... TET Backstage
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Happy New Year!
My name is Damien Nguyen, the Lead Coordinator for the TET 2020 Lunar New Year Festival.
(1st and 2nd of February, Sandown Racecourse, save the date!)
It is my pleasure to introduce you to the first ever post for the TET Backstage, a weekly blog that will continue straight up to the event, and showcase the team behind the festival.
Over the coming weeks, you will get a chance to read about the experiences and inner thoughts of every single member of our team, and how the festival is changing and shaping the daily routine of our lives.
We're all volunteers. None of us need to be here, but all of us want to put together the best possible festival for everyone in Melbourne to enjoy.
This festival has been a pivot point in my life and I hope the turnout this year is bigger than ever before, because its a new cycle in zodiac (Year of the Rat) and .... well I truly believe this is an event worth attending!
Having been to the festival since I was a wee babe, it has been a crucial part of my childhood. Every year, I loved the noise, the energy, and the atmosphere of the event, and I would often try to find my dad in his distinctive blue ao dai so that he could take me on a carnival ride.
Fast forward 20 years, and now 2020 is my third year and attempt to make this special festival a must-attend event for any Melburnian who is aware of Vietnamese food or culture.
So what makes this festival so special?
Aside from the fact that we are one of the largest celebrations for the Lunar New Year in Victoria, and that we get a average of 25,000 attendees over 2 days, this festival is special because it emphasizes cultural displays over your typical food, ride, stage combination.
Granted, we do our best to get the biggest and best for those three, but at its core, our festival has always been about our community showcasing what we can do. We want families to have a great time. Because Lunar New Year is all about reconnecting families and renewing familial ties.
When I first volunteered for the festival, I was placed in charge of bao gua, a children's game where you place "bets" on an animal, that was on the board, then you roll the dice and if the animal was shown on the dice, you could win more.
I know, I know ... but it was harmless fun with lollies.
For the first 2 hours of my marathon 10 hour shift, there was no-one coming. I was too shy. I didn't want to bother people to play this silly little game. Who is going to want a lollypop or a single mentos and a chance to win more?
But slowly, inspiration dawned, and I knew I had to get out of my shell. Showmanship took over, and soon I was rattling dice constantly, pausing before reveals and generally, hamming it up.
People ate it up. Kids would come back for another attempt to win more free lollies. I saw parents look over with more interest. By the 4th hour, there was a constant crowd of children, aunties, uncles and teen couples eager to impress their crushes.
There was a valuable lesson learnt that day ....
The House Always Win.
Nowadays, the TET festival's children activities section has grown to the point, where we even export the entire experience to the Good Friday Appeal's Kids Day Out.
And I couldn't be more proud.
I started off as a humble gambling dealer, but the experience was so gratifying, I ended up asking more people to come and volunteer for this event.
Our volunteers at the TET festival are the lifeblood of the event. They all love what they do, because you, the audience are loving our event. I wouldn't be coming back if I thought the event was bad. I'd volunteer somewhere.
I also wouldn't be here, as the head of this event, for a third time running, if it wasn't for the support of the volunteers, the community, our sponsors and everyone who attend the event.
So thank you.
Our entire team really appreciate it!
For next week's post, it will be a deep dive on our festival's theme: pioneer.
Until then, keep counting down the days!
Lead Co-Ordinator TET 2020 Vietnamese Community of Australia - VIC Chapter