Festival will display Hispanic culture

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Blanca Calderon of Huntingburg, 17, right, danced with Monica Gil of Huntingburg, 18, during a gran baile, or “grand dance” in English, on Saturday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2366 in Huntingburg. The dance was held to present the 12 queen contestants for Huntingburg’s first Hispanic Cultural Festival, which is scheduled for Sept. 13 and 14. Calderon is one of the queen contestants.

By ALEXANDRA SONDEEN
Herald Staff Writer

HUNTINGBURG — A new festival with a cultural twist will debut in Huntingburg in September.
The Hispanic Cultural Festival is sponsored by the Association of Latin Americans of Southern Indiana, commonly called ALASI. It is scheduled for Sept. 13 and 14 behind Old Town Hall on Market Street.

“We’ve been on it for a good four months with planning,” said Primo Nino, an ALASI member and co-organizer of the event. “We want to make this an annual festival.”

Nino said the festival will use food, music and activities to give visitors a glimpse of the various cultural aspects of the Hispanic countries from which Huntingburg residents hail. The group also plans to display native clothing and other items from the countries represented.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census about 18 percent of Huntingburg’s 6,057 residents are Hispanic.

“We want the community to see that the Hispanic community has really grown a lot,” Nino said. “The goal is to help integrate the community more.”

To start promoting the festival, ALASI held a gran baile,which translates to “grand dance” in English, on Saturday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2366 in honor of the festival’s 12 queen pageant contestants. The crowning date is to be determined.

Part of the goal for the festival, Nino said, is to help break stereotypes.

“We want the Anglo community to see that not all Hispanic people are bad,” Nino said. “And we’re not all Mexican.”

Stereotypes also are prevalent within the Hispanic community, mostly based on the countries people are from.

“It doesn’t make a difference where we’re from,” Nino said. “It makes a difference in how we try to improve ourselves. We’re all here for the same reason, for the same purpose — to make a good living and have a good life. Everybody has potential regardless where they’re from.”

ALASI received two grants from the Dubois County Community Foundation, a $3,000 stand-alone grant and a $5,000 matching grant. ALASI is lining up business sponsors to come up with its $5,000 match.

The City of Huntingburg is also supporting the new festival by helping ALASI organize the event and work out the logistics.

“We’ve given them the same assistance we would for any other festival in the city,” Mayor Denny Spinner said. “We’ll be working with our departments to make sure the things are there and in place for the festival to be successful.”

The city also helped connect ALASI with the community foundation that provided the grant funding.
The city has been working to bridge the gap between the Anglo and Hispanic communities in Huntingburg in various ways like sending out utility mailers in both English and Spanish.

“It does fit together with the efforts we’ve had in the past,” Spinner said. “It’s helping a group that wants to make an impact on the community. This is their initiative, but I see this as also a way for them to increase awareness of their organization.”

Nino said ALASI hopes the festival can help Hispanic residents better integrate into the Huntingburg and Dubois County communities as a whole.

“We want them to see that it’s more than work and home, work and home,” he said. “I hope we can help break that and work as a community, get people involved.”

Contact Alexandra Sondeen at asondeen@dcherald.com.




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