SOUTH EL MONTE – He might have been wearing a clown hat, but there was no doubt about who was the king of the Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. Wappo, a 4-month-old golden retriever, took center stage at the fashion show Saturday as the Chinese community celebrated the Year of the Dog, which actually begins Jan. 29, according to the lunar calendar. “It’s our first time here and I can’t control my dog because he is so excited,” said Quinn Johnson, 18, of Hacienda Heights. Johnson’s mother, who is Chinese, named the dog Wappo believing it was how you say “handsome” in Spanish, he said. Indicative of the diverse community of El Monte and its surrounding communities, the eighth annual festival features swap meet-style booths with Oriental trinkets and artwork, commercial products and community-related activities serving the interests of the Chinese and Latino communities. Carnival rides, massages and a plethora of Chinese dishes served as a break from the vast array of bargain booths. An estimated 80,000 people are expected to attend the free two-day event in South El Monte, which continues from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. “This is my first time here and it’s great to bring my little son out to play in these rides,” Tony Carson said. “I just had the barbecue lamb on a stick and that was delicious.” Promoting the expansive culture of Chinese performance art, the main stage included acts from kung fu masters, magicians, singers and traditional dragon and lion dancers. Among the booths were various charities including one from the Los Angeles American Asian Lions Club in Monterey Park. Event sponsors include the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, Yes Marketing Group and the Comite Civico Latino-Americano. “It’s a big event with a lot going on,” said Napoleon Medina, executive director of Comite Civico. “Whittier \ is in a Latino area so the gathering of these two cultures is great. You see Latinos eating tacos and it’s great to get a chance to see Chinese merchants eating some tacos as well.” firstname.lastname@example.org (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2110 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!