The First Annual Latino Heritage Festival was held on the 25 of May 2002 in Des Moines. Organizers were made up of volunteers committed to showcasing the positive impact Latinos have had on the state of Iowa. They expected between two to four-thousand people and were stunned when 15,000 people attended. Today, the event has become the largest culturally-centered event in Iowa, drawing over 50,000 participants from all over the Midwest.
From the State Fair parade, to the 2-day celebration, the festival brings a strong sense of pride and tradition to Latino communities across the state, is educational, informative, and enriching for all who are involved, and helps support local human-service charities and raised money for scholarships, through Latino Resources, Inc.
This year the Festival brings Blank Park Zoo to life with all day live musical entertainment, dance lessons, a talent competition and a dance party, courtesy of the 1st ever Battle of DJs coordinated by Latin Rhythmz. There will also be a return of crowd favorites like Aztec dancers, Capoeira Martial Artists, talented singers of ages, mariachis and a variety of food vendors to satisfy any antojito.
“We strive to make sure everyone has a great time throughout the two days of the Festival,” says JoAnn Mackey, executive director for Latino Resources, Inc. the non-profit entity that coordinates Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival. “We add new activities and entertainment every year to keep it fresh.” This year the Festival presents one of Nickelodeon’s hottest stars, Sponge Bob Squarepants who will have regularly scheduled shows and photo opportunities for children and families throughout the two days. Kids will also enjoy the FREE inflatable rides, music, and a host of activities, such as Aztec masks, beaded jewelry and educational art activities, courtesy of Hispanic Educational Resources, Inc.
For the entire entertainment schedule, and more information, visit the website at www.latinoheritagefestival.org.
Iowa’s 7th Annual Latino Heritage Festival will be Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th at the Blank Park Zoo. The event includes a rich variety of traditional food, authentic arts and crafts, and cultural exhibits featuring educational activities for all ages, hours of live entertainment, and the third annual Latino Vocal Talent Competition. The festival is only $1 for children 12 and under, $5 for everyone older than 12. Parking is $3 per car with all proceeds going towards the Des Moines Optimist Club's local charity programs.