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Friday, Mar. 6, 2015

Storm Lake hosts its first Festival of Latin America

Monday, September 10, 2001

For many Storm Lakers, next weekend is a celebration of their heritage - and it's something they want to share with the entire community.

The first Festival of Latin American Independence Days is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16. The event is on the same weekend that many Central American countries and Mexico celebrate their independence days.

For years there have been celebrations in major U.S. cities, and now Storm Lake will host one of its own.

"All across the nation these days are being celebrated - usually by bigger cities. We want to bring that home to Storm Lake," said Bo Brink, director of Lutheran Hispanic Outreach and Hispanic Information Center which is organizing the Storm Lake festival.

The event will celebrate the Days of Independence of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and other Latin American counties.

"We want to create an event that brings Hispanics and Anglos together for fun and to learn," Brink said.

Sept. 15-16 is an important weekend for Central America and Mexico since it is independence day celebrations there. On Saturday in Des Moines there will be a large music festival expected to bring in excess of 10,000 people.

The festival here won't be that large, but organizers hope it supplies a similar sense of togetherness. "We've been looking for a way to create an event that brings together both Anglos and Hispanics communities for an enjoyable event," Brink said.

The show will include folkloric Mexican dances, music by local band Aromas and Roots, historical summaries of the independence days of the different countries, along with video clips of them and prayers for each country.

The program will be presented both in Spanish and English. Explanations will be given of each dance, which part of the country it is from and the meaning of it, Brink said.

"The goal is for all of us to grow in the understanding of cultures," he said.

At the end of the program there will be Latin American foods and snacks and an opportunity for people to socialize.

Much of the program, such as the dances, will be done by children who take part of the School of Arts for Children, an outreach program by Lutheran Hispanic Outreach.

"It's designed to teach children Hispanic folkloric dances, choral singing and dramatic acting," Brink said.

There are about 12 middle school children who will perform the dances, as well as two groups of younger children performing. Their instructor is Maria Torres.

Money raised with ticket sales will go towards the School of Arts for Children, and spent on purchasing supplies such as new dresses. Each dance requires a different type of dress, and those can cost in excess of $70, Brink said.

Along with the children programs offered by Lutheran Hispanic Outreach, there is a school of music for adults, offering guitar, keyboard and drum lessons.

While being a celebration of an important holiday for many Storm Lake residents, the event is also an opportunity for the kids in the School of Arts to show off what they've been learning.

The kids have performed after worship services, but this will be their first big performance, Brink said.

The festival is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 16, at South School Auditorium. It will begin at 4 p.m. Tickets are $3 and can be purchased at the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 732-3780.