It was a warm Sunday afternoon at Uptown Dallas. Fiesta Latinoamericana kicked off the festivities for its eighth year and they've couldn't have picked a better locale than Klyde Warren Park. DFW International Community Alliance who hosted this event went above and beyond to make this event happen without a hitch, and picking this popular public park in Dallas made the event all the more ideal to attract people of all ages throughout the day.
The Asian Festival held months prior at Main Street Garden in Downtown Dallas did have a following of event goers and vendors looking to sell merchandise and recruit new members, the space was much smaller. There was only one stage for performances. Vendors were crammed next to one another like sardines, and at times many of the visitors would congregate only in one section of the festival and vice versa for hours on end. Main Street Garden may have the luxury of being a quaint mini-version of Central Park, its not an ideal location to host a festival.
Klyde Warren Park on the other hand speaks for itself.
What makes a festival a festival is its ability to provide breathing room. I know it sounds ridiculous that the event was held in the outdoors, but what I mean by breathing room is the convenience of moving around peacefully and seamlessly without bumping into everyone you meet.Fiesta Latinoamericana had two performing stages to choose from. One stage that was dedicated to the dancers to perform their routine and a main stage where musical performers can play their set list. Both at opposite ends of the park, where people can alternate between performances.
In route between performances, everyone took the time to check out some of the vendors who were there at Latinoamericana. Artists like Marilyn Vicente and Kevin Gomez who brought their work out on display and garnered some well deserved accolades. I took plenty of liberties to check each of the venues that were there. If art is not your thing, buy food that was on sale from the vendor. Got really energetic kids? Playing some soccer out on the field or some table tennis in the shade are good options; and the park couldn't be a park without a playground, which ended up being the most popular spot at the festival.
The atmosphere of the festival had an ongoing theme of optimism and high hopes. What? You've ever heard of a festival that stoked negativity and made people sad? We're talking about an event that celebrates Dallas' Latino community. Let's be honest for a moment. 2014 really has been a very polarizing year by far. And its in those dark and uncertain times that people have to come together and become the one defining voice that says what everyone else is too afraid to say. We exist. We're real. We're not going anywhere. And its that attitude that always wins out every time and puts discrimination and hardship in its place.
Watch this clip and tell me that your heart doesn't melt:
You could really get the sense of community and it showed being there. There were mariachi bands that ventured the festival all day and people stopped repeatedly to listen to them perform. Several news outlets including Univision 23 came to broadcast Fiesta Latinamericana. Big name sponsors such as Wells Fargo, Lowe's and Ford came as well to give back to the community. But the biggest draw was the parade of flags ceremony. Where everyone got a chance to walk with the men and women who represents their home country. Its moments like this you get to stop and really think about your own history.
For the remainder of the day, I played some table tennis. Got some impromptu soccer practice from ESPN Deportes. Chatted with more artists and musicians. Watch some more dance routines, and got into some shenanigans with the Nesquik Bunny. (You would have needed to be there) All in all, it was a nice introduction into the beginning of fall.