On Saturday, Aug. 23, Latino Festival took over the hub of Perry’s downtown, bringing in food trucks, music, live dance acts, merchandise booths, and many others. The annual event is put on for Hispanics United for Perry (HUP), with a goal of showcasing culture to the community.
“It’s fun because it’s a day that a lot of families look forward to because they can enjoy a lot of activities, food, music, and there’s also an opportunity for us to share with those who want to learn more or just enjoy a different experience,” said Rosa Gonzalez, HUP President.
According to Gonzalez this year’s event included 25 booths featuring an assortment of vendors.
“We want to support the ones that we have locally,” Gonzalez said. “Lately, we have some other businesses that want to join us from different areas - especially Des Moines.”
The primary hot spots for the event fall into the hands of the street dancers as well as those who supply an assortment of food at their trucks or stands.
Local El Buen Gusto Restaurant sold tacos, tortas, and a popular mango smoothie drink with chili powder. The featured items were chosen due to their popular interest in the community.
“Just easy stuff we can do,” said Marisa Barco, daughter of the owners at El Buen Gusto Restaurant. “People usually really like tacos and people really like the mango smoothies here.”
Besides diving into popular dishes that are typically featured around town, other vendors brought in toys and apparel.
Des Moines resident, Luis Vazquez set up a booth on the “quiet side” of the event, stationed over by the petting zoo, face-painting, and balloon animal booths. Children flocked to Vazquez’ booth, picking through the variety of items.
Luis Vazquez’ daughter translated for him.
“This is my first year,” said Luis Vazquez, vendor at the Latino Festival. “We’re selling sports toys, bracelets, and speakers.”
The Vazquez family doesn’t have a store in Des Moines, but they regularly attend Latino Festivals in the Des Moines area.
Perry’s Latino Fest typically falls around the last week of August every year, Gonzalez says, which has a tendency to bring in out of town visitors as Latino Heritage Month occurs in September.
“Latino Festivals happen around that time in different towns,” Gonzalez said. “We try to find a day that doesn’t compete with the festival in Des Moines.
The event originally began as a way to keep the heritage of the Latino community. Gonzalez believes the festival is important in the Perry community.
“For us - to pass our culture to our kids, but at the same time, to help others,” Gonzales said. “Sometimes people want to help and we’re trying to provide opportunities for those who want to get involved as well.”
Throughout the 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. event, the day-long Festival included a morning parade, dancers in Perry’s main street, food vendors, a petting zoo, face-painters, balloon animals, merchandise booths, as well as a live entertainment.
“With the money we collect, we are able to pay for the entertainment, but we also use any money that is left to provide scholarships for high school students that want to go to college,” Gonzalez said. “We want to have a purpose and in HUP, we believe kids deserve to have an education.”