“Proud of Our Roots!” was the slogan for the Second Annual Festival Latinoamericano, held Saturday, Sept. 13 near Binns Park, in Lancaster City. During this festival, people of all ethnicities showed their spirit for Hispanic culture through music, food, vendors and performers showcased on Binns Park’s stage.
Despite the rain the celebration didn’t stop. Voices of the hispanic community became more prevalent as the festival went on—many information stands purely informed others of the goings-on of Hispanic people in Lancaster County.
One of the stands represented the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA), which helps “foster and facilitate the cultural, social, civic and economic development of the Latino Community of the City and County of Lancaster,” according to their brochure. They have a Senior Center, prepare meals for those who are “economically disadvantaged,” offer legal services, broadcast their own radio station, provide clinical help and much more.
Renee Glover, Operations Manager of SACA, and one of the representatives at their stand, didn’t let the rain stop her from having a good time. “I’m just happy to see a crowd here, even in the rain,” Glover said. She’s been working at SACA for over 30 years, and has lived in Lancaster her entire life.
Marisol Sanchez is another member of SACA, the Office Manager of Nuestra Clinica Residencial, who represented their stand during the Festival Latinoamericano. Nuestra Clinica Residencial health services for Hispanics in Lancaster, including drug and alcohol counseling, therapy, social work and physical exams. She said she feels that the festival helps educate the Lancaster community by exhibiting their culture, foods and music. “People might not get to see that [otherwise],” she said.
A large supporter for the Hispanic community is the mayor of Lancaster, J. Richard Gray. He was SACA’s attorney before becoming mayor. “He has been a great friend to our community… He supports most of our efforts,” Sanchez said.
A combination of his support, Tom Corbett’s support, the Latin American Cultural Center’s planning and the passion of Lancaster’s hispanic population are what made the festival so special.
Nonstop entertainment was delivered to the event, from afternoon to evening, in the form of dances, musical performances and activities for kids.
The performers at the festival included Roberto Peña and Jacklyn Shapiro, Tango dancers; Ayazamana, an award-winning folkloric dance group; Andes Manta, traditional Andean Mountains music; Janette Márquez Valerio, a singer and piano player; Mariachi Tapatio de Alvaro Paulino, a notable Mariachi band; Samba New York!, a Samba Drumming organization; Giro, a Latino Grammy-nominated artist and Vena, a well-known band.
Señorita Festival winner, 18-year-old Karen Segarra, was also at the Festival Latinoamericano. She talked with many about her triumphs, and heavily reinforced that Hispanics should be proud of their roots. She said she loved the festival, and was proud of how the community worked together to make everything perfect. “The Lancaster community has come a long way,” she said. Segarra also emphasized that “there’s a lot more [to our culture] than rice and beans.”
In the Festival Latinoamericano program, Segarra said, “To you young Hispanics in particular, I want to say that we are the present and future of our great American culture. The power is in our hands to make [sure] those great values ??of our culture [are] perpetuated. There is no reason to be ashamed of our roots.”
Despite the rain, everyone was in great spirits and the community had a wonderful time at the festival. Without a doubt, there will be another Festival Latinoamericano next year, but until then, there’s no reason to celebrate each other’s differences.
“Everyone has a lot of differences, and were proud that Hispanics are showing their roots and that they’re proud of their roots,” Segarra said.