No one knows when the Dao San country fair began. In the past, whenever the local people saw the image of horned animals marked in the calendar, they went to the fair to trade goods. To local people, horned animals such as buffalos and goats symbolize prosperity. In recent years, the Dao San country fair has been held every Sunday.

This year’s Dao San spring fair falls on December 25th of the lunar calendar. From early morning, all the roads from 8 border communes in the area are filled with people, horses, and motorcycles. Groups of H’mong, Dao, the Thai people in colorful costumes stream to the market. The atmosphere soon becomes lively with people chatting and laughing.

The Dao San spring country fair is not just simply a place to trade cardamom, honey, glutinous rice, bamboo shoots, peach blossoms, and dong leaves. It is a place to mingle the cultures of multiple ethnic groups. People go to the fair as if going to a festival. 

Ms. Pham Thi Ke of Pa Vay Su commune, is really excited to be going to the market.

 “Everyone is happy because we look forward to this fair. We prepare a lot for this. The men slaughter pigs and cut dong leaves and peach blossoms to bring to the market. Women and girls prepare their best clothes to wear on market day. We love it because the fair is a place for us to meet our friends,” she said.

On market day, both sellers and buyers seem easy going. After selling their goods, some people stay to eat a bowl of Thang Co, a typical H’mong dish, and drink a cup of corn wine with their friends. The old people meet their friends and recall old memories. Young men and women gather to the melody of pan-pines and call and response songs.

The market closes when the sun sets, but no one wants to leave. Elderly Di A Dia said “I go to the market every week and play the pan-pipe to entertain local people and tourists. I also teach young people how to play the pan-pipe to preserve our traditional tunes”.

At the end of the day, the market closes. Some people buy farm tools. Others buy food. Some buy nothing. But everyone feels happy. People leave the spring market with hope for a happy and prosperous year.