Food, music, culture comes to town at ... Latino Heritage Festival
By William K. Alcorn
Preserving and displaying the area’s Hispanic heritage, great ethnic food and just plain fun are at the heart of the 2018 Latino Heritage Festival underway this weekend at Roosevelt Park in Campbell.
The festival began at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, with a parade, followed by a church service. It resumes at noon today and will come to an end at 9 p.m.
Saturday highlights included pro-style wrestling, which is very popular among Hispanics here and in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, and nations such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Peru, and a dance/exercise demonstration of Zumba – created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Beto Perez, sponsored by Stepping Out, a Mercy Health fitness program.
Today’s activities include a presentation by the United Federation Tiano People, representing the indigenous people of the Caribbean, about 3,000 of whom live in the United States, said Dr. Rose Quintones, who is of Puerto Rican descent and is the official representative of the Federation of Tiano People and a Spanish-speaking counselor with Total Care Psychological and Counseling.
There is also a magician/comedian at 4 p.m., a karate demonstration at 4:30 p.m. and a Mambo Caliente band at 6 p.m., which will play meringue and salsa tunes for dancing.
The Latino Heritage Festival, now in the eighth year of its reincarnation, is in its second year at Roosevelt Park. It was previously located in downtown Youngstown, said Vicky DeJesus, festival president. Her brother, Carlos Rivera Jr., is vice president of the event.
The Latino Festival’s home for about 20 years was St. Rose of Lima Church in Campbell.
“I grew up going to the festival as a little girl, then it faded away,” said DeJesus, 44. “My brother and I decided to bring it back to provide a good time and to preserve and share our heritage.”
“We also did it for our father. He would have loved it,” Carlos Jr. said.
He said he is encouraged by attendance this year, which was better Saturday than last year, and he and his sister plan to keep the tradition going.
“The festival not only helps keep our culture alive and teach others about it, it gives us a chance to support our businesses,” said Ruth Sanchez of Youngstown.
Admission to the Latino Heritage Festival is free, thanks to fundraisers and donations from individuals and sponsor businesses, DeJesus said.