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Libraries celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa


Oct. 6, 2012: Hispanic Heritage Month wrapped up Sat., Oct. 6, 2012 with a multi-level celebration of culture, dance, and cuisine at the main branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library downtown and at the Lorain South Public Library. The events are traditionally some of the last ones scheduled for the Latino communities.


In Toledo, El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico kicked off the celebration with one of its many public dance performances in the Wintergarden Room.


But the smells of a typical Latino Sunday afternoon meal with family wafted from the Huntington Meeting Room, where Lina Barrera and and her sister-in-law Syndi Guerrero were preparing a traditional feast of fall flavors.


That aroma drew more than 100 people who were treated to a lunch of Calabacitas con Pollo (chicken with autumn squash, corn, and zucchini). The pair also prepared fideo, a Mexican pasta side dish, ranchero pinto beans; homemade salsa, and flour tortillas.


“It’s a one-pot meal, a family-oriented dish—especially with all the squash and zucchini that we have ample supplies this time of year,” explained Ms. Barrera, who hopes to soon open a catering business with her sister-in-law. “Sometimes it’s made as a vegetarian (dish), sometimes with chicken or pork.”


She laughed about the large number of people they cooked for, because the pair ends up making meals for that many people in their own family. But she stated she enjoys cooking traditional dishes to share with the general public at the annual event.


“Sharing the culture for one thing,” said Ms. Barrera. “Now you see a lot of our products in the mainstream and people are very curious about the products they see on the shelves and they don’t know how to use them. Our goal is to teach them how to and not to be afraid to use them.”


“They bring a different twist, a different flavor than what you’d expect from Mexican food,” said library supervisor of facilities and operations Mateo Espinoza, who co-chaired the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. “You don’t see a lot of squash or pumpkin in typical Mexican foods. They bring it out there and show you how to do it.”


The two women have cooked together for more than 35 years and currently teach cooking classes as well.


It’s just so fulfilling in many, many ways. We’ve met so many people and they are very, very curious about it—about our food and our culture,” said Ms. Barrera. “It’s a creative way—it’s artistic: using all the different colored vegetables and all.”

El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico

Norma Ruiz with niños at the library during HHM celebration.

Lina Barrera and and Syndi Guerrero


“We had a great turnout. Everything just ran smoothly today,” said Lupe Hurtado, library circulation supervisor and an event co-char. “We have other branches out there that do their programming, too, but we get to see a big group of diversity here. I’m just glad we get to share our culture with them, the experiences of Latin life, I guess.”


“It brings people into our building who maybe haven’t come downtown quite that often,” added Espinoza. “The more people and more attention to the library—what better way than sharing our culture with them.”  


On the second floor in the children’s library wing, schoolchildren could be heard giggling as they made piñatas and party hats, an activity led by Delfina Zapata, a member of Organization of Latino Artists (OLA), who also plans to become an art teacher.


“Today I’m practicing,” she joked on the Nuestra Gente radio show, which broadcast the event with live interviews.


“I think it’s important that they see how they’re made—and participate and enjoy the actual making of it,” said Ms. Zapata. “Hopefully this will inspire them to learn more about Hispanic culture, because it’s not all just about piñatas and stuff like that. There are a variety of other arts within our culture that are quite interesting.”


In another room, kids were decorating cookies. The day’s events wrapped up with Mexican Bingo for gift baskets as prizes.


In Lorain, the library celebrated HHM at its South Lorain Branch with a concert by the Latin jazz group, UpFront Band. Guests enjoyed music, ice cream, face painting by Angel Bug, and a visit by Browser, the library mascot.


Cleveland Public Library also celebrated HHM with numerous activities at numerous of its branches. See page 14 of the Sept. 14 issue of La Prensa.



Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/09/12 18:12:33 -0700.



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