Festival brings Latin flavor to Lexington


Latino Festival Saturday September 18, 2010. Photo by Karrus Fuller

by Jasmine Whitlow

This weekend the Lexington community hosted the annual Festival Latino de Lexington to celebrate Latino culture.

The festival falls every year during the national celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, which recognizes and celebrates Hispanic heritage and culture.

This year, the festival added a brand new component, the Latino Carnival Parade. The parade turned downtown’s Main Street into a Latino culture showcase, with dancers and live music representing numerous Latin American countries. The Brazilian style carnival parade introduced Lexington residents to Miss Kentucky Latina, Daniela Gaskie, who lives in Lexington.

The vibrant floats gave spectators a taste of traditional dances, and music played in the countries represented. The authentic food vendors were the icing on the cake.

Lines were long and people were hungry. They waited to get a taste of tacos, tamales, burritos, fried corn with cheese, rice and the popular dessert, churros, a Spanish doughnut. Festival goers could wash everything down with multiple flavors of “Aguas de Frutas,” a refreshing fruit drink made from fruit in season combined with sugar and water.

Live music played on both Friday and Saturday, and musicians played today’s hits in both Spanish and English.

Festival Latino de Lexington organizer Irene Jarman said the festival and the Latino culture is a huge, important part of the Lexington community.

“It shows the diversity of the community and how we have integrated our culture into the community,” Jarman said. “It’s such a great thing to show our heritage and who we are.”

Jarman said the festival draws a large crowd because it is unique and allows the community to see the Latino culture and what it has to offer.

“Last year we had over 30,000 people come to the festival,” Jarman said. “This year with the new parade component, we expected an even greater turnout.”

Friday night about 10,000 people attended, and Saturday night between parade participants, spectators and the festival crowd, about 25,000 attended, Jarman said.

Festival goers could buy traditional clothing, handmade jewelry and sporting attire. They could aslo purchase flags for each country to show pride.

Students who went downtown for the festivities represented UK at the event, including biology sophomore Arlexes Jones, who attended the festival Friday night.

“I traveled to Mexico when I was in high school, because I was studying Spanish,” Jones said. “The place was amazing, and coming to the festival made me feel like I was back there. From the food to the music and the vendors, and the people salsa dancing, I love being able to just come downtown and experience a new culture.”