The Latin American Alliance of Lancaster is gearing up for its seventh annual Latin American Festival, a lively event that celebrates the richness of Latin culture.
“This festival is organized by a group of Latinos who live in Lancaster but it is an event dedicated to the entire community of Lancaster County and beyond,” says Jaime Zabala, the event’s founder and president of the Latin American Alliance.
“This is our cultural gift to the whole community,” he says.
The festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, from noon to 9 p.m. at Long’s Park, Lancaster. Admission and parking are free for all in attendance.
A celebration of the region’s Latino culture, the festival delivers entertainment to all audiences through free concerts, arts and crafts, children’s activities and Latin dance presentations.
“The objective is to promote our culture and support diversity by bringing people and families of different backgrounds together for an entertaining and safe event. That has been the purpose from the very beginning,” Zabala says.
The alliance first brought the cross-cultural festival to Binns Park in Lancaster, according to the organizers. In 2015, the festivities moved to Long’s Park.
The event is expected to draw about 15,000 people if the weather is good, according to Zabala.
“A quick look at the program will be enough to help people appreciate and understand that the ideal of sharing our culture materializes in a very practical way,” Zabala says.
Among the 35 exhibitors at this year’s festival are 12 food vendors offering their specialties from various Latin American countries, as well as traditional American food staples.
The amphitheater at the park will be boasting with the US Navy Band Cruisers, the Navy’s premier music group, playing genres of music including jazz, standards, rhythm & blues, classic rock and contemporary pop.
Ballet Folklorico Yaretzi will take attendees through an imaginary journey across Mexico with its traditional costumes, dance and colorful repertoire.
Headlining the event is Dominican actress and merengue singer Miriam Cruz, “La Diva del Merenque". Cruz is best known for her tenure as the lead vocalist of Las Chicas del Can.
Other performers include Misky Latin Band, A.N.N Dance, Mariachi Flores, Los Pleneros de USA, Grupo Éxito and Pancho Bongo y Su Orquesta.
The festival is held during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 to recognize and celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
“I can assure you that by the end of the day, your spirits will have been enriched with a new and positive experience," Zabala says.