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Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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Lexington’s Latin community unites at downtown festival

The Lexington community gathered for Festival Latino de Lexington, a celebration of Latin culture on Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23. 

Presented by the Foundation for Latin American and Latino Culture and Arts (FLACA) and Lexington Parks & Recreation, the event was held in the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza and included multiple food, information and arts vendors.

Informative vendors lined the plaza with booths for multiple Latin American countries.

Each Latin American country had an information booth with a country representative to relay facts about their country of origin.

Alex Hernandez, the representative for Guatemala, said this was his 10th year at the festival as a country representative.

“I actually started getting involved with the Latin community when I was in college in UK, and I volunteered initially,” Hernandez said.

He also said that the festival allowed positive aspects of the Latin community to be shown.

“It is a good chance to display all the positives of the Latin community. A lot of times you only hear about the negatives, so this is a time for us to display all the good things we have to offer to the community in Lexington,” Hernandez said.

Rosario Jarmillo, the representative from Ecuador, echoed the same sentiment. She began tabling at the event after meeting an organizer from FLACA two years ago.

“I’m from Ecuador and have been in Kentucky for 6 years and I’m very proud to be here and to display how beautiful my country is,” Jarmillo said.

The event was promoted by UK and brought in attendees from UK’s Family Weekend.

Julia Macias, a freshman at UK, said she was happy the event was occurring and a part of Family Weekend.

“I’m happy this is here. It gives me confidence that people of my own culture are out here,” Macias said.

Along with students attending the event, their parents did too.

Shellie Molina, the parent of a senior at UK, attended the event with her son. 

“I am so amazed by the turnout as a Latina. My son being here to represent his heritage of Puerto Rico and Mexico, I think this is an amazing opportunity to bring everyone together,” Molina said.

FLACA Treasurer and Spokesperson Yamel Patterson-Muñoz said that representation in the Lexington community was important to her and a reason she chose to be involved with the organization.

“Getting involved with FLACA helped me put out the voices of not just me and my family, but the whole Hispanic community to know that we’re here. And we’re here to stay,” Patterson-Muñoz said.

Although the event ended at 11 p.m. on Saturday, the organizers of the event have already begun work for the next year, according to Jessica Piersol, special events manager with Lexington Parks & Recreation.

Piersol said that planning for next year starts within days after the completion of the festival.

“Every time we have a festival like this it really does take several people on the board,” Piersol said.

Patterson-Muñoz added that a multitude of logistical factors went into planning the event such as space concerns, amount of vendors, police officer attendance and more.

The event marks the middle of FLACAs celebrations throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. For more information on future events email [email protected].

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