By Bria Isaacson, News Editor
Many people must travel in order to experience any form of authentic Latino culture, but residents of Asbury University have been lucky. Latino culture has been brought to them in the form of two festivals: the Lexington Latino Festival and the Asbury Latino Festival.
The Lexington Latino Festival, which has been held for the past 16 years in downtown Lexington, occurred this past year Sept. 16 to 18. As usual, it featured live music from international bands, cultural dances, visual arts and authentic cuisine.
This festival, presented by Lexington Parks and Recreation and the Foundation for Latin American and Latino Culture and Arts (FLACA), has been growing steadily, according to Sarah Buckles, assistant to the director of cultural arts with Lexington Parks and Recreation.
“It’s gotten bigger over the years and is outgrowing the state that it’s in,” Buckles said. “There are so many people involved, and it attracts more and more every year.”
According to the FLACA website, over 30,000 people have attended each year since 2013, thus making the Lexington Latino Festival the largest Latino heritage event in Kentucky.
Most of the people who attend, according to Buckles, are Latino or Hispanic, because programming is only offered in Spanish and events are catered towards them.
“The festival is a celebration and awareness of the big Latino population in Lexington,” Buckles said. “It shows Lexington about each country, while providing services, such as health screenings [during the health fair on Sunday].”
Asbury students have celebrated this culture by attending the festival.
Junior Standia Civil, who went for the first time this past weekend, said that her favorite part of the festival was the food. “There [were] just so many types and every country had their own way of preparing and serving the same type of foods.”
Asbury University will host its own Latino Festival, officially called Festival Latino de Asbury, on Oct. 3 from 7 pm to 10 pm in the Student Center.
The Asbury festival will include many of the same features that the Lexington festival boasted: music, dance performances and food, such as chips and salsa, paletas and jarritos.
In addition, Asbury’s festival will also include a dance performance with an opportunity for audience participation and a craft activity.
All of these aspects of culture will help the festival achieve its goal of “letting other Asburians taste a small part of Hispanic and Latino culture,” said Chelsea Mueller, coordinator of Intercultural Programs.
Junior Melina Martinez, president of Latino student alliance (LSA), has been planning the budget and activities for the festival. She and Mueller are excited to present an authentic image of Latino culture and to set students straight on the differences between “Latino” and “Hispanic.”
Martinez said, “I’m looking forward to creating a full experience for Asbury students…. This event is meant to help Asbury understand the Latino culture and what it means to be Hispanic, other than the stereotypes.”
Because of this, they are hoping that many people, and not just Latinos and Hispanics, attend the Asbury festival, which may become an annual event, depending on student opinion and LSA input.
For Civil, one of the best parts, besides the food, was seeing people who were not Latino or Hispanic participating in the festival. She said, “[They] just soaked up the culture without trying to make it their own.” And that is the hope for the Festival Latino de Asbury too.