10th Latino Festival brings food and fun
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum email@example.com
Latino food and fun will take over Manchester’s Veterans Park on Saturday, Aug. 15, for the 10th annual New Hampshire Latino Festival. The event is sponsored by the non-profit Latinos Unidos de New Hampshire, an all-volunteer group established to help support and spread awareness about the state’s Latino population.
Between 5,000 and 8,000 people attend the festival each year. The fun begins with a parade down Elm St. at 11 a.m. Music will fill the air and floats representing various South and Central American countries will participate with people dressed in colorful costumes. This year two Latino community leaders will serve as grand marshals of the festival parade: Ed Ibañez and Eva Castillo. There will also be two festival queens: Stephanie Jazbon representing Colombia, and Karen Rejino representing Mexico.
The parade ends at the park, where at 1 p.m. Governor John Lynch and Mayor Frank Guinta will proclaim it Latino Culture Day for both the city and state.
Food vendors will be set up throughout the park, offering cuisine from countries such as Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Colombia. Look for everything from pasteles (similar to tamales, made with green bananas and pork wrapped in banana leaves) and traditional corn-husk wrapped tamales to tacos and rice and beans. Empanadas, the meat or sometimes cheese filled pastries made in many Latin American countries, are also a festival favorite.
Many bands and cultural groups will perform. The sounds will range from traditional to dance and popular selections. Craft vendors will sell items from the represented countries, and there will be table displays from different organizations with information about their services. For the kids there will be balloons and face-painting.
The proceeds from the day will go to the organization’s scholarship fund to help Latino students attend college. This past year Latinos Unidos de New Hampshire gave out $5,000 in scholarships, which brings the total amount of scholarships provided through the festival so far to more than $50,000. The festival committee obtains sponsorships from companies to help underwrite costs so as much money as possible can go to the scholarship fund.
Admission to the festival is free but bring cash to purchase food from the various vendors. The fun will run from noon to 8 p.m. in the park. To learn more about Latinos Unidos de New Hampshire, visit their Web site, www.latinosunidosnh.org.