On July 12th, 2019 Bloomington celebrated Naadam, the Mongolian summer festival, at Lower Cascades Park. A popular annual highlight among Bloomington's summer festivities, the event was sponsored by the Mongolia Society, the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, the Department of Central Eurasian Studies, and the Bloomington Mongolian Community.
Naadam is the Mongolian national summer holiday. Local counties and provinces celebrate Naadam on different days but the national Naadam held in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar is held in the middle of July. During Naadam Mongolians participate in the three “manly” sports: wrestling, archery, and horse racing. Wrestling also featured at the Bloomington Naadam, and though horse racing was replaced by a foot race, the event was nevertheless a vibrant celebration of the rich culture of Mongolia.
This year’s Naadam was hosted by the Summer Language Program’s Mongolian language students Sam and Stephen. Tserenchunt Legden, the Senior Lecturer in Mongolian at Indiana University, who teaches Mongolian during the summer and academic year, helped organize the event. Sam and Stephen spoke in both English and Mongolian during the event, which featured performances of Mongolian songs and dances, as well as Mongolian food and drink. The event was well attended by current and former students of Mongolian and other languages at IU and the Language Workshop, faculty members, and members of the local Mongolian community, as well as by former Peace Corps volunteers who were stationed in Mongolia and traveled from Indianapolis specially for the event.