For the first time, the Spanish Club attended the Latin American Festival at Long’s Park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania Saturday, Sept. 24.
The group of 11 students watched Latino performers, ate Latin American food and visited vendors’ informational tables. The flags of various Latin American countries bordered the park and several community members carried their own Latin American flags with them as they attended the fair.
When the students arrived, local salsa band PA Mambo was performing on the amphitheater at the center of the park. Many community members placed their own folding chairs and picnic blankets on the grass in front of the stage. Some also danced to the music.
“I’m Puerto Rican. Salsa is all in the culture of Puerto Rico, and it was really nice to hear it and see people dancing to it as well,” first-year Chaniqua Estrada said.
Local Native American tribe Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape took the stage next. Before they performed ceremonial dances and drumming, a tribe member asked the audience if anyone was a descendent of a Latin American tribe, such as the Quechuas, the Mayans, the Aymaras, the Incans or the Aztecs. Several audience members raised their hands, and the speaker stressed the importance of celebrating their roots and not being afraid of their heritage.
Argendance entertained the audience after Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape. This Argentinian group performed a traditional folkdance called Malambo. Like a tap dance, it involved intricate foot work and rhythm.
Members of the group also played the bombo, an Argentinian type of drum similar to a bass drum and used boleadoras, lassos with three balls attached at one end, to keep rhythm.
As the Spanish Club left the festival, Danza Fiesta took to the stage. This performance was a Puerto Rican folkloric dance and music ensemble. The female performers wore colorful, traditional dresses and the men wore suits and sombreros; they danced as couples. When a performer asked how many Puerto Ricans were in the audience, a large number of people raised their hands and cheered.
During the performances, an announcer introduced the group in English and then a translator would introduce the group in Spanish. The event was bilingual, and community members spoke both English and Spanish at the festival.
With music in the background, people tried different foods, such as empanadas, sodas from Latin American countries, rice and meat, funnel cake, fried Oreos, cotton candy, popcorn and tacos. Sophomore Josephine Stommel tried a dish made with chicken and mashed banana and yucca. Estrada ate a pincho, which is chicken on a stick.
“Even though it was all Latin American countries, you could tell they were distinctly different in minute ways. Even though it was mainly just their food, it’s interesting that their food can differ so much,” Stommel said.
Venders also offered free samples. Kreider Farms handed out chocolate, vanilla and raspberry ice cream at their table. Dole had several types of spiced fruit and Wendy Chan & Associates offered a wide variety of Mexican candy. The Hershey Company kissmobile had free Hershey kisses. Other free items included maracas, drawstring bags, Frisbees, magnetic fridge clips, school supplies, toothbrushes, ice cream scoops, fly swatters, pens and much more.
For the children, the festival had a face painting table. Popular patterns included a Latin American flag on one cheek and the whole face painted as a skull similar to the faces painted during the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico.
Other vendors, such as the League of Women Voters of Lancaster County and the Republican Committee of Lancaster County, encouraged community members to register to vote. They asked people if they were registered and if not, offered to help them register.
LNP and Voz at Lancaster sponsored the festival. For more information about Spanish Club, email email@example.com.