This past weekend marked the 16th annual Festival Latino. Held in Genoa Park along the downtown riverfront, it’s a passionate and colorful celebration of Latin American music, dance, food, and art. Musical acts Déjà vu Latin Fusion featuring Enrique Infante, 24 Horas, Ruben Ramos and the Mexican Revolution, and Tito Rojas with the Sammy DeLeón Orchestra seized the stage with fervor, as did dancers from Centro Esperanza, El Corazón de Mexico, and the Salsamante Dance Academy. Artwork by Ecuadorian painters Jose Bastidas and Wladimir Muñoz, Columbian painter Nohra Bermeo, and Puerto Rican photographer Melissa Peña was on display, while the marketplace brimmed with jewelry, clothing, and crafts. Dozens of food vendors offered zesty plates of Caribbean, Columbian, Cuban, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan cuisine. A children’s area offered interactive bilingual storytelling, sing-alongs, and drum circles.
According to a recent article, Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in Central Ohio, with a population nearing 70,000 (from 15 countries). As someone who has devoted much of her life to studying the Spanish language and appreciating Hispanic culture, this brings me such joy. Columbus is also home to thousands of people from China, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Russia, Somalia, Vietnam, and numerous other countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. I’m proud to be an Ohioan, but I’m even more proud to live somewhere that heralds the preservation of cultural traditions from around the world. Click here for more photos.