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Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival to draw thousands at weekend celebration of culture, community

Actualizado: 17 sept 2018

DES MOINES, IA – Traditional Latin American foods, musical entertainment, children’s activities and much more await visitors to Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival.

About 10,000 people are expected to attend this year’s festival, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines.

“We’ll have beautiful weather for this first weekend of fall,” said Joe Gonzalez, executive director of Latino Resources Inc., the umbrella organizations that oversees the festival. “We’d encourage anyone from around the state to travel to Des Moines for this one-of-a-kind celebration and help us honor our Latin American culture and history.”

Master of Ceremonies is Fabiola Schirrmeister. She was born in Obregón, Sonora in Mexico. She has worked for WIPR radio Telemundo in Puerto Rico and was the host and producer of Azteca America Tucson. Schirrmeister now works for La Ley 105.5 FM radio in Des Moines.

What’s new:

The Parade of Nations will feature the U.S. and Iowa flags, along with 20 Latin American nations and Spain. The parade will take place during the opening ceremonies of the festival at 1 p.m. Saturday near the main stage, as well as a couple of other times during the festival.

“We wanted a way to showcase the colorful flags of all of the nations represented in Iowa,” Gonzalez said. “This will be an opportunity for those at the festival to see the colors of each country.”

The Latino Business Leadership Award will be presented to two individuals who are either a Latino(a) business leader or a businessperson who serves a predominantly Latino clientele. The names will be announced at the opening ceremonies.

Migration is Beautiful, a special initiative from the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa Libraries, will be at the festival. It speaks about how migration shaped Iowa’s history, first by the Native Americans and later by migration paths of immigrants from across the globe. Part of the website and display features Latinos and their contributions to Iowa’s economic, social and cultural history.

Scholarships and entertainment:

The festival will award seven high school and college youth with $1,000 scholarships. In addition, Affinity Credit Union will give a $1,000 scholarship to another youth. These scholarships will be presented at the opening ceremonies. The festival received between 40 and 50 scholarship applicants.

Shannon Rodriguez, a senior at Grand View University in Des Moines, is this year’s poster contest winner. She received a $1,000 scholarship for winning, and her design was used on the marketing materials

Attendees to this year’s festival will see traditional Latin American foods from countries that include Cuba, Brazil, Peru and Argentina. Children’s activities include mini soccer demonstrations, a piñata-breaking every hour, art activities, face painting at a cost and much more. The Des Moines Fire Department will be on site with a firetruck, and families can learn more about fire safety through the Fire Safety House. There will be a live art component, and veterans’ artwork will be featured in the art tent.

Chef Tania will give cooking demonstrations and show how to make healthy Latino meals. This year’s theme is “Bienvenidos a Costa Rica.” Demonstrations will take place at noon, 2, 4 and 6 p.m. on the Saturday of the festival, and noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday.

“We wanted to offer something for everyone from our youngest to oldest visitors,” Gonzalez said.

Entertainment includes an elote (corn) eating contest at 6 p.m. Saturday, and the “Lucha Libre” wresting show where good guys take on bad guys. There will be musical entertainment and dancing all day long both days.

The cultural village will feature displays about the history of and artifacts from Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Spain.

“These booths provide a deeper cultural understanding of the nuances and differences in the Latino community,” Gonzalez says.

Cost is $5 for adults and $1 for children 12 and younger.

For more information, visit, or contact Melissa Walker at 515-681-7731 or Visit Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival on Facebook.

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