Latino festival offers diverse experiences

By Kayla Pickrell

Fireworks lit the sky at the 11th annual Festival Latino de Lexington.

The Festival began Friday and ended Sunday.

Students and citizens of Lexington came together to celebrate the Latino culture Friday at “La Noche Tropical.”

Saturday night, also named “El Mercado,” allowed for those who missed Friday to experience the entertainment and culture. Sunday’s “Health and Sports Family Day,” was at Masterson Station Park.

“I really didn’t know anything about the Latino culture, but the Festival truly enlightened me and gave me an idea of a culture that is considerably underestimated,” Hassan Alomran, a computer science sophomore, said.

Samantha Michaelis, a biology sophomore, went Friday night and said she didn’t think that many people would be there.

“I was expecting it to be a smaller event, but when I arrived there were tons of people,” she said.

The Festival highlighted the band Grupo Fuego, which played Latino music and showed synchronized dance moves.

The Salsa Center also gave performances from their beginner’s course featuring a salsa mix by Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World.” The men dressed as the King of Pop and the women dressed in black and red salsa outfits.

Booths lined the Robert F. Stephens Courtyard Plaza as individuals of all cultures celebrated Hispanic Heritage Day. Dresses, handmade hats, sweaters and bracelets were some of the many things being sold.

Hispanic Heritage Day was created by President Lyndon B. Johnson to show the Latino contribution on the United States. In 1988 it became a month-long celebration, starting Sept. 15.

“The people were really connecting and showing respect, while having what seemed to be the time of their lives,” Alomran said.

To the right of the stage, aromas filled the air from numerous food booths selling churros, fried bananas, mango on a stick, asadas, tamales and authentic Latino food that was prepared as customers watched.

“I believe that this event showed a side of Lexington that I have never seen, and that I now love,” Michaelis said.

Not only was it an environment for adults, but it was also suitable for children.

There was a small stage to dance on, a small area to play soccer, and children had a chance to blow bubbles across the courtyard.

“You will definitely be seeing me at next year’s festival,” Alomran said, “and I hope that other cultures would be considered in events similar to this one.”