Hispanic Festival Celebrates 21 years in Tallahassee
By Navael Fontus
Tallahassee celebrated National Hispanic Month as Hispanic Festival 2014 took place at the St. Louis Catholic Church on Saturday.
The event, which celebrates the many diverse cultures of Latin America, is held every year with 2014 being its 21st year of celebration in Tallahassee. Different businesses, vendors and food trucks were in attendance each bringing diverse Latin cuisines so that visitors could taste and purchase.
Loud speakers boomed with many styles of Latin American music that supported salsa and merengue. And different performers came on stage showing off their styles of costumes and dances from their country.
Every so often the music would stop only to announce raffle winners as many different prizes were given out.
“The excitement about having these annual festivals is that a lot of people come to celebrate the Hispanic culture not only with their friend’s but with new friends also,” Olga Castillo-Schmitz president of the North Florida Hispanic Association and organizer of the event said.
The festival also gave businesses in Tallahassee a chance to come out and sell their merchandise like Arte Mexico, an arts and craft business in North Florida, and the Spanish Honor Society. Lines formed for BJ’s Party House as balloons were blown up for different shapes of balloons, and Florida State University’s department of physics wowed crowds who walked by with their physics tricks. Latin cuisines like Dulces Peruanos, a Peruvian dessert, had visitors coming back who couldn’t get enough of the sweet treats.
The festival also celebrated University of South Florida medical student and Lincoln High school of Tallahassee graduate Angelid Pabon who accepted $1000 from the Hispanic Heritage Student Academic Award fund.
Dance groups representing different parts of the world entertained on stage with their eye-catching costumes and instruments along with salsa star Ricky Luis who came straight from Puerto Rico performing his hits and also took part in the carnival.
“It’s amazing being out here, there are wonderful vendors out here as well,” said Ebony Jackson who is part of the Dindera dancers – a group of belly dancers who performed at the festival.
“It feels great to be able to put on these events for Tallahassee,” Castillo-Schmitz said, “a group of students from FSU started these festivals at Tom Brown Park in 1993 and it’s grown to the festivals we have here today at the church.”
All proceeds from vendors and the festival will go to charity, the St. Louis Catholic Church and the Hispanic Heritage Student Academic Award Fund. The event was organized by the North Florida Hispanic Association. The next event held by the association will be a dance on Valentine’s Day catered with Latin cuisines held at the American Legion in Tallahassee.