Brittany Ho’s desire to do something for her community is resulting in a downtown summer event to celebrate the people of multiple cultures that call Flandreau home.
The preschool teacher and mother of four will use a $5,000 Bush grant to bring together food vendors, music, dancing, children’s events and games June 25 on Second Avenue. It will represent the Native American, Hispanic, Filipino, Caucasian and other backgrounds that influence the community.
“We’re aiming to celebrate how diverse and truly special it is here,” she said.
It’s an idea Ho, 34, developed during a year-long leadership and community building program called South Dakota Change Network. At the end of the experience, she wrote an application for a Bush grant for the summer event that if all goes well could continue in future years.
Her goal is to do one Flandreau Friday this summer and come back next year with one each month in June, July and August. She is applying for another grant to help pay for future programs.
“I just thought I want to do something in my community,” she said of her decision on which project to pursue for Flandreau. (I knew) I would love to do something where everyone in the community can come to it and they would have something there they could connect to whether it be food or song or dance.”
Ho isn’t working alone on the project. She has eight others, representing diverse demographics, who are helping with planning. “Our community members are diverse in race and age,” she said.
So far, the event – which will start at 5:30 p.m. -- includes hoop dancer Jackie Bird, Axteca dancers from Minneapolis, Advent Capelle and possibly more. A children’s area with arts and crafts and traditional Native American games will be set up in the park area between First National Bank and the Hunkake Café. The street will be closed in that area to west past the post office, and Wind Street will be closed south to just before the ATM drive-thru.
Food booths that plan to come so far include Annie Garcia’s eggrolls, Elisabetta James’ Italian pizzas, Gone2Pieces old-fashioned sodas and popcorn, the Flandreau Bistros shave ice, cotton candy and more. In addition, the event will highlight various downtown restaurants that serve a variety of food. There also are plans for a beadwork artist, a booth with items from the Pleasant Valley Colony and face painting.
After the family-oriented event, bars on Wind Street are having an outdoor event, too.
When Ho, who is Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, isn’t planning the community event, she’s teaching preschool at Our Redeemer Preschool and Junior Kindergarten program, working on her last year of college courses online and taking care of her and her husband Thien’s children – Isabella, Koa, Cruz and Hanalei, ages 11 to 4.
After graduating from Flandreau High School in 2005, she studied at the University of Hawaii on Oahu, where she met and married her husband. After their daughter was born, they moved back to Flandreau to be closer to her family. Her mother, Leona Perry, also lives in Flandreau.
After a break in her education, she is pursuing an early childhood education degree on-line and hopes to one day work as a teacher at Flandreau Elementary. She will graduate in May 2022.
“My goal is to be at Flandreau…just to give back and be a presence for kids I see there. A lot of the kids I see there, they remind me of me,” she said.