Great food, crafts, music Saturday at 13th Annual Latino Festival in Manchester
The 13th Annual Latino Festival takes place today from noon to 7:30 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Park in Manchester and is expected to draw a crowd of between 8,000 and 10,000, according to Alejandro Urrutia, president of Latinos Unidos de New Hampshire, which organized today's event.
The day will feature examples of Hispanic food, music and crafts, all in the hopes of showcasing the many Latino cultures that call New Hampshire home.
“There is growing diversity in the state,” said Urrutia. “We hope the festival will help create an even better relationship with the community, and allow members of the Latino community the chance to see other cultures within their own community.”
The festival also raises money to provide college scholarships to Latino students.
Urrutia said food is an important part of the festival, stating that menu items from the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, Columbia and Mexico, as well as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala will be sold at the event.
Many Latino cultures will be represented in the festival's entertainment, featuring a wide variety of musical performers, according to Urrutia. The grand marshal of the festival will be Republican New Hampshire State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, the first Hispanic elected official in the Granite State.
“There will be a short, 10-minute parade where the United States flag and the flags of the countries represented at the festival will head for the stage,” said Urrutia. “The day truly won't start until the grand marshal takes the stage, and then the festivities will begin.”
Urrutia said that since the festival began in 2000, attendance has nearly doubled. In the years since its debut, it has become a regular stop for state and local politicians and government officials. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, is expected to give remarks today during the opening ceremony of the festival. Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas also plans to attend, along with Gov. John Lynch.
“Governor Lynch has been a big supporter,” said Urrutia. “We expect him again this year.”
The city of Manchester has a rich immigrant history, with the mills that operated there in the 19th century attracting workers from all across Europe and neighboring countries.
In recent years, the Hispanic and/or Latino population in the Queen City has been growing. The 2010 Census estimated the Hispanic or Latino population in Manchester to be 8.1 percent of the city's 109,565 residents. The 2010 Census estimates that Hispanic or Latino residents make up 2.9 percent of New Hampshire's overall population.
The mission of Latinos Unidos de New Hampshire is to provide and create awareness of the Latino Community in New Hampshire and celebrate the cultural diversity of Latino nations. It also aims to encourage Latino students to pursue higher education by providing scholarship funds.
Today's festival starts at noon in Veterans Memorial Park and runs until 7:30 p.m. For more information on the event or to contact organizers, call 321-1291.
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