Latinx Festival in Kalamazoo celebrates culture and history with a fun event

KALAMAZOO, MI — Community members gathered late Saturday afternoon to participate in and celebrate Latin American culture and history.

For the first time ever, the 2022 Latinx Kzoo Festival was held on August 20 at Bronson Park in downtown Kalamazoo. The fun event offered a chance to learn and embrace Latin American cultures.

The Latinx Kzoo Festival was organized by El Concilio, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote and support Latino communities. El Concilio was previously called the Hispanic American Council, but changed its name in 2017.

“We just wanted to bring everyone together,” said Celestine Robles, administrative coordinator of El Concilio. “And make people aware that El Concilio is here and part of the community.”

There were vendors at the event selling clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories and more. Some stores sold items originally made in Latin American countries like Mexico.

Some of the sellers even used their shop to help others. Hilda Hernandez decided to start La Boutique de Hilda after hearing stories of people who couldn’t sell the items they made on the street and had trouble finding money.

“My mother opened this shop to help people like this,” said Amy and Said León, Hilda’s children. “By taking the things they made and giving them the income back.”

There were also stalls that offered authentic Latin American dishes and desserts. Had elote, which is grilled corn with mayonnaise, cotija molido cheese, and spices like tajin.

Some people set up a booth to show off their creations, like Samantha Ascencio, who makes a tablecloth that depicts a timeline of her family’s history.

“It’s my way of connecting with my culture,” Ascencio said. “By reorienting my family history and learning skills such as embroidery.”

Apart from the vendors, there were fun activities that everyone could participate in. There was a mechanical bull to ride and a bouncy house the kids could jump into.

The event had live performances from young and old Latin dancers in Zumba, which is a fitness program inspired by Latin dance. There was even a talent show for people to show off their skills.

Also on MLive:

Belle Isle’s giant slide closes, hours after reopening, for safety reasons

Gilmore unveils 2022-23 lineup highlighted by rising artists, world-renowned stars

The 18th Annual Back to the Bricks Comes Through the Rain with an Expanded Show

Joseph K. Bennett