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Organizers explain significance of AANHPI Heritage Month festival being held at CPKC Stadium

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Posted at 6:00 AM, May 10, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Business owners from across the Kansas City area will gather Saturday to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

It will mark the third year for a festival celebrating the month, this time in a new location.

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Abby Dodge

Columbus Park had been the center of the AAPI Heritage Month festival for the two years.

KSHB 41's Abby Dodge spoke with Jackie Nguyen, the owner of KCMO's first vietnamese coffee shop Cafe Cà Phê, who has spearheaded efforts to organize the festival.

When Nguyen first moved to KCMO, she noticed there wasn't an AAPI celebration in town.

"And now that there is something for us to come and celebrate, it feels healing to be honest," Nguyen said.

Bety Le Shackelford works alongside Nguyen as the shop’s director of community outreach. 

As the child of immigrants — like many business owners who will be at the festival — she thinks of her mom while planning the inclusive event. 

"This celebration and the events that we put [on] are also in honor of her," Le Shackelford said. "So she gets to come here and still have that community. So I am very proud to wear this shirt and I’m very proud to be her daughter."

According to the last census, Kansas City’s Asian population is just shy of three percent. 

“You wouldn't know it when you come to our events though," Le Shackelford said.

The event title is expanding from AAPI to AANHPI — Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander — and the location is bigger, too. 

This is all thanks to a simple statement made on the mic at the end of last year’s festival. 

"'Maybe next year you’ll see us at a stadium,' and we just manifested it," Nguyen said. "And I really believe in shooting for the stars, so I just asked."

Nguyen used her own social media following, the growth of her business Cafe Cà Phê and word of mouth to grow the festival each year.

And now they are on the biggest stage yet at CPKC Stadium.

“It’s been organic, but it’s also been a lot of hard work on behalf of our staff and a lot of our team," Nguyen said.

Other businesses like Made Mobb in the Crossroads District are happy to jump on board too. 

Made Mobb's three co-owners are Vietnamese, Samoan and Laotian. 

"That’s the stuff I grew up on, and it’s amazing to see other kids of different races and nationalities enjoy that as well," said Vu Nguyen, co-owner of Made Mobb.

Cafe Cà Phê and Made Mobb collaborated on a clothing line dropping at the event. 

"We didn’t grow with a lot of, 'Hey, good job, we are proud of you,' type things," Vu Nguyen said. "So, just seeing this message and understanding that you are good enough, you are enough, is really big for me. And I think growing into the next generations we tell that to our friends and we tell that to our families."

The event goes from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Attendees must have a ticket, which can be found on this website. Full information on the event can also be found at that website.