Vang Pao statue to grace Fresno fairgrounds

General Vang Pao will be the newest exhibit at the Fresno Fairgrounds tomorrow when Monster City Studios unveils a life-sized statue of the Hmong leader and hero.

The Fresno-based design and fabrication company was commissioned by the members of the Hmong community to build the concrete statue for around $15,000.

Completed over the last several weeks, the statue stands at six feet tall and weighs more than 1,000 pounds, greeting those that show up for the International Hmong New Year celebration running every day at the fair until Jan. 1, 2014.

Officials with the Big Fresno Fair and Monster City Studios will be on hand at the fair's pavilion/bandstand area at 10 a.m. tomorrow to unveil the work.

General Vang Pao was famed in the U.S. for commanding an army of Hmong refugees to fight against its communist enemies in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

He and his wife moved to the United States soon after the war and eventually settled in Fresno, where he continued to oppose human rights violations and champion the cause of Hmong refugees in the area.

Pao passed away in January 2011 at Clovis Community Medical Center at the age of 62.