Culture, food big part of Festival Hispano

Attendees stand in line to enter Festival Hispano’s multi-block party celebration. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — In any language, Festival Hispano unquestionably translates to one giant street party.

Several blocked-off blocks of Race Street in Georgetown were pedestrian-traffic-only as the stage Sunday for this year’s annual event, an eight-hour mega-event celebrating rich Latino heritage, culture and food.

“It’s a great street party and it’s everything we expected and more,” said Patricia Rivera of La Esperanza co-presenter of Festival Hispano with The Voice Radio Network. “This is a diverse community, and it reflects sort of the community, which is great as well. It is definitely not a Latino-only party. This is a street and community event. This is an opportunity for us to really come together, to meet new people.”

Billed as the region’s premier taco-fest, the festival featured more than 90 vendors, including numerous food booths that were by eye-witness accounts continuously busy.

“We have food vendors from all over Latin America, so we call it a ‘taco-fest,’” said Ms. Rivera, noting “there are lots of countries that don’t have tacos on the menu, and their food is featured here as well.”

Festival Hispano rookies, Sam and Manisha Nainani of Milton, labeled the event a huge hit.

“Yes, this is our first time. We like it,” said Mr. Nainani. “It’s cool; a lot of vendors, a lot of options.”

A juicy mango was their first culinary stop.

“This was a pitstop!” said Mr. Nainani.

“There’s a lot of entertainment, and there’s a lot of food. That’s what we came for, to try different things,” said Ms. Nainani, who planned to scope out taco and other food vendors. “We want to see everything before we choose where we are going.”

In front of gates, large crowds gathered elbow to elbow in view of the main stage to see and hear about a half dozen groups/artists, many touting Top-40 rank as well as international acclaim.

“Really, the best ones from all over Latin America,” Ms. Rivera said.

Augmenting stage entertainment and food vendors were numerous civic, public safety, health-related organizations and other community groups.

Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services, with multi-lingual staff, again registered people for on-the-spot flu shots, as it did last year.

At the Sussex Montessori School booth, representatives Jessica Vela and Kaneisha Trott estimated about 100 people had inquired about the K-3 Montessori school planned in Seaford.

Kids had plenty to see and do, including several carnival-type games and train rides provided — for a fee — by Water Gun Fun Inc. of Newark.

Haseen Haseen, who operates Water Gun Fun with wife Glorious, conducted train rides as the conductor. The trackless train maneuvered in circles and zig-zags in an alleyway, always is view of parents of the young train riders.

“Never out of sight,” said Mr. Haseen, who ranks Festival Hispano among his favorite events. “This is like my fourth year here. This is one of the top, with the number of people, the turnout and revenue. So out of a Top 5, this is one of them.”

Festival proceeds support La Esperanza, a bilingual multi-service nonprofit in Sussex County founded in 1996 by several Hispanic leaders and three Carmelite Sisters of Charity — Sister Maria Mairlot, Sister Rosa Alvarez, and Sister Ascencion Banegas – to address needs of the increasing number of Hispanic immigrants and migrant workers arriving to southern Delaware.

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