Georgetown to host Festival Hispano 2019 on Sunday

GEORGETOWN — The town of Georgetown will celebrate Latino heritage Sunday with an event featuring major entertainers and a plethora of cultural food selections that will draw neighbors and those from out of state.

Festival Hispano 2019 hits the streets in Sussex County’s county seat for an eight-hour celebration of Latino heritage, culture and food that will represent several continents during the mega-event, presented by La Esperanza and The Voice Radio Network backed by a cast of supporters and sponsors.

“The festival has been a great opportunity to highlight how the community can come together and celebrate,” said Jennifer Fuqua, executive director of La Esperanza, a multiservice nonprofit focused on building family empowerment among Latinos. “It’s been that in the past, and expectations are that that will continue.”
Georgetown Mayor Bill West says the town is rolling out the welcome mat for what could be thousands and thousands of festival patrons, including the many Hispanics who call Georgetown home.

“We’re trying to be well-rounded. We’re trying to open ourselves up to the Hispanic community, so they’ve got faces that they see from the town, and they got people they communicate with,” said Mayor West.
“I usually walk up and down the street eight or 10 times, meeting people. There are quite a few Hispanics that know me now. It’s a great thing in Georgetown to open up the communication lines and make the town a better place.”

Again, like last year, there will be an admission charge of $5. Children under 12 are admitted free.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., along North Race Street, encompassing several blocks that are blocked off to traffic.
“We shut down from East Laurel (Street) all way to the police station,” Mayor West said. “We just have vendors set up the whole way. We have two stages for music. It’s a great event.”

Stage entertainment features seven groups/artists, most of whom are Top 40 and internationally known, said Kevin Andrade, CEO of The Voice Radio Network, who is coordinating the music and entertainment segment of the festival.

Stage acts include:
• Groupo Control, regional Mexican, based in Houston, Texas.
• Optimo, Dominican Republic; one of the top five artists in the U.S.
• Oro Solido, Puerto Rican merengue, New York City-based.
• RKM & Ken-Y, Puerto Rican music.
• Banda Blanco, Honduras.
• Los Amigos Del Jefe, regional Mexico.
• Terranova, local band from Mexico.
• Ralphy Dreamz, New York City.
“With these artists, we are expecting a lot of people coming, not just from the state of Delaware,” said Mr. Andrade.

He noted last year’s event drew people from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
“We believe in the eyes of the people and the Latino community and local Sussex Countians, it is probably one of the biggest festivals here, and it is very successful,” said Mr. Andrade. “I believe we have never had anything like this before in the state of Delaware. I believe it is one of the biggest events … 15,000 people in one day.”

“It is one of the festivals we truly raise funds for La Esperanza,” he added.
Los Amigos performed at Festival Hispano 2016. “People wanted them more. We had an opportunity to bring them back,” Mr. Andrade said.
Disc jockeys from The Voice Radio Network also will provide entertainment.

Augmenting stage entertainment and food vendors are numerous civic, public safety, health-related organizations and other community groups.
“The last two years they gave out free flu shots,” said Mayor West. “There are a lot of free giveaways to the kids and to the parents.”
About 20 of the 100-plus vendors are food vendors. They will offer many Mexican delicacies, along with food from Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
“So, this year it’s very delicious food we are expecting to have, very international food from everywhere around Latin America,” said Mr. Andrade.

Specifically, the festival will feature “the biggest taco-fest ever. We will have 11 to 12 taco vendors, authentic tacos,” said Mr. Andrade.
Booths serving tacos will be numbered, and patrons are invited to savor and vote for their favorite, Mr. Andrade said.
La Esperanza is coordinating the volunteer effort, which includes trash pickup, traffic assistance and other duties.

“It will be a lot of trash pickup,” Ms. Fuqua. “We’re going to just be managing, keeping eyes on street, helping people with parking. All streets are blocked off by the local police. Volunteers will be helping people enter and exit, keeping track of vendors and trash. It definitely will be physical volunteer opportunities.”
For addition information on the festival, visit www.festivalhispano.org or www.hispanicfest.org.

Festival Hispano dates back several decades. It debuted in Georgetown in 1996, then moved to Millsboro. It returned to Georgetown in 2016.
“It did start in Georgetown, then went to Millsboro,” Mayor West said. “It was big down there. Then all of a sudden, they decided they wanted to come back to Georgetown. We welcomed them back. It has turned out to be a great event. There sure is a mess of people on that street when we have that festival there on a Sunday.”

Mayor West says the festival allows Georgetown to showcase its cultural diversity.
“It’s educational also. The town set up a booth last year with trash cans, to show the people what the difference is between regular trash and recycling. We have a couple of our Hispanic employees that are there and are translating, trying to bring the community together,” said Mayor West.

“There are people everywhere. It’s a great day, and at end of day we’ve got a big crew of people who walk and clean streets. You would never know that two hours prior to that there was a festival.”
“We are very excited about this event. It is very family oriented. We don’t sell any kind of alcohol,” said Mr. Andrade, a native of Ecuador who found the American dream with a series of radio stations, several of which cater to Delmarva’s Latino population.

“We feel proud. We feel proud to be part of Delaware. We feel proud to be Latinos. And most important we feel proud to be Latino-Americans. And that is why we have these events going on.”

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