National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. People whose families emigrated from Central and South America, the Caribbean, Spain and Mexico are celebrated for their contributions and cultural heritage.After months of planning, the Hispanic Heritage Festival will return to downtown Goshen for the 2nd year this Saturday from 1:00 to 11:00 pm.
The event was brought to fruition by Community Pro Education, a nonprofit organization promoting inclusion and cultural diversity.
“[The] Hispanic Heritage Festival is a great opportunity to bring the community together,” said Manny Cortez, the president of Community Pro Education. “We also pay respect to those people who came before us.”
The first festival garnered approximately 5,000 to 7,000 visitors, but Cortez says, “we hope we can make more people come [this year].”
Cortez explained that such large events require six months of planning and a committee discussing community outreach, music groups, sponsors and more.
Goshen College also sponsors the event in hopes of increasing community outreach to students and families while bringing people together. The college sets up an informational table at the event.
Gilberto Perez Jr., the vice president of student life, is on the festival committee.
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of planning, and it can be costly,” he said. “So we’re focusing on parenting with members, community organizations of our city, to support them and also be a part of it.”
Cortez and Perez noted that volunteers are an important aspect of ensuring this event is a success and encourage those in the community to sign up.
“Folks can contact me directly, and I can sign them up as volunteers,” said Perez. “I’m asking Goshen College faculty, staff and students if they want to be volunteers for an hour or two, get a free T-shirt and a food ticket to one of the food trucks.”
At GC, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated through an annual convocation where the college honors Latin-X community members.
According to Perez, LSU (Latino Student Union) and the Commuter Student Association have also discussed potential events apart from the convocation.
Cortez explained that these events are essential because Latin-X individuals often cannot find events where they can celebrate.
“They don’t find any place where they can celebrate where they are coming from,” said Cortez. “We decided if we [can ask the City of Goshen] if we can celebrate, for Latinos, for the whole community.”
Last year at the festival, Perez heard from an elderly attendee that the festival’s environment felt like her country of origin — Mexico.
“They feel as though they’re connecting to their culture…retaining those things that make them who they are,” said Perez.
Perez emphasized his desire to see the GC community at the festival: “It would be great to see a great Goshen College student presence; there will be a lot of food. There will be maybe 16 food vendors. There will be opportunities to listen to music and do some dancing.”
The festival will take place this Saturday from 1:00 to 11:00 pm in downtown Goshen. The Maple City Conference and Event Center will hold a separate concert after 11:00 PM.
For those interested in volunteering, email firstname.lastname@example.org.