Latino festival sheds light on cloudy day

Organizers endured months of hardships to coordinate and complete the festival for the day. It only took a few seconds for attendees to revel and celebrate in it.

Citizens of Longmont celebrated diversity and unity at the 2nd annual Latino Festival on June 25, 2017.

Latino

Photo from Colorado Latino Festival 2017 Facebook page.

At noon, crowds were lured into the heart of Main Street by the sharp sounds of accordion music and performers stamping to a traditional Mexican Polka dance.

Vendors from Boulder County arranged Latino Pride T-shirts next to national flags around their tents. Food trucks showcased various Latin American cuisines. Lit grills released a delectable smell into the air. Jose Beteta, the director of the Boulder County Latino Chamber of Commerce and Tamil Maldonado, founder of local nonprofit Barrio É, helmed the festival and celebrated with the crowd.

“The one thing that is very common in Latin America is that family structure, that community structure,” Beteta said. “We wanted to bring that out and share it with not only Latinos but with the community in general.”

The intention of the festival was to immerse citizens of Longmont into all Latin American backgrounds. They were greeted with varieties of music from Puerto Rico, Mexico and Cuba. Others felt at home and recognized for their displacement.

Volunteers gathered in booths to assist and speak to attendees about the festival. Some said they felt it was their duty to participate in the Latino festival.

“I am originally from Venezuela and it matters to me, but I also love that we can expose the American culture to see what Latin American culture is all about,” said volunteer Candice Bataille.

The consensus at the festival was that it was a moment of celebration, awareness and exhibition.

Though the Latino Festival was well received, it faced adversity. The closure of Main Street from noon to 7 p.m. offered challenges for the route’s usual travelers.

Coming up from a $6,000 deficit from last year, this year’s festival was able to break even. However, The Latino Festival surpassed its predicted number of attendants.

It also drew in a larger amount of sponsors and vendors that made it possible to cover its $40,000 cost.

“I would love for them to have a new experience, whatever it is. A new experience that is positive for them we want them to feel,” Maldonado said.

This sentiment was witnessed by attendees at the festival. The massive celebration spread five blocks down the horizon of Main Street.

The road brimmed with a variety of events to partake in. On one side of the festival, members of Longmont sweated and moved in unison to Zumba music. On the other side, people clapped and danced in couplets to the lively sounds of beating congos and seductive flutes.

With the large, successive turnout of the 2nd annual festival, Beteta and Maldonado said they are planning to uproot the festival and spread their message across the state of Colorado.

“We’re gonna go to Boulder!” said Beteta as people cheered and danced to the energetic sounds of Salsa music.

Author: Justo Yanez

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