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MidWest LatinoFest honors Veterans, Latinos
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa

June 8, 2013: MidWest LatinoFest already is building on the momentum from last year, booking national entertainment and a salute to veterans in addition to all of the local Latino groups and organizations that participated and made last year’s festival such a success.

Natasha Salazar

MidWest LatinoFest runs from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, at Promenade Park in downtown Toledo. Admission is $5, but is free for children 11 and under, senior citizens age 65 and older, as well as anyone who shows a military ID.

The event will open with a special ceremony, which includes a blessing of the festival, a parade of countries celebrating the various Latino ethnic backgrounds, and a presentation of the colors, followed by Natasha Salazar singing the national anthem.

A special salute to Latino military veterans and soldiers will be part of the festivities. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall will be on display in conjunction with the festival, across the Maumee River at and near International Park. The event also will feature a friendly tug-of-war between Latino police officers and firefighters at adjacent Festival Park.

Local and regional musical acts will entertain the crowd throughout the day. Triple Threat, Los Mariachis Locos of the Glass City, and El Corazón de México folkloric dancers will take the stage during the afternoon. Toledo-based Grupo Vizión, Grupo Illusion from Pontiac, MI, and Los Carnales from Saginaw, MI will perform through the day.

Several DJs will MC the event along with TV personality Angi González of WNWO TV.

“It’s been a great opportunity to be a part of it and to see things go from one year to the next, just really awesome,” said Adrianne Chasteen, a La Prensa marketing rep and festival co-coordinator.

Las Fénix will be the featured evening entertainment, scheduled to take center stage at 9 p.m. Festival organizers believe a national act of their caliber will be a huge draw.

“It’s not just Tejano—there’s a few different, other areas of music that they cover and I think it’s going to be great,” said Ms. Chasteen. “Just to see everybody coming together is going to be great. I think it’s going to be a very cultural event and fun for the whole family.”

Nanette Nieto, a La Prensa marketing rep and festival co-coordinator with Ms. Chasteen and Co-Chairs Lulu Perales and George Plasencio agree. 

As part of an ongoing effort to improve the overall health of local Latino families, DJ Linda Parra and her Nuestra Gente volunteers will assist healthcare providers with free blood pressure checks, blood sugar screenings to detect diabetes, HIV testing, and other health-related services throughout the day.

Las Fénix

“People who go to the festival can get the free screenings now that we’ve tried to educate the community about Latinos and diabetes,” said Linda Parra, executive director of Nuestra Gente Community Projects. “It’s like you went to a party to see the doctor.”

The whole process will take festival-goers about 15 minutes to complete. People can walk the festival grounds and then return to learn their test results. Nuestra Gente completed 116 free health screenings during a recent event in April.

Food, clothing, art, and jewelry vendors will dot the festival grounds, selling Latino-oriented wares. Some non-profit groups also will set up information booths.

“It’s grown about 20 percent over last year,” said María Molina, vendor coordinator. “People are getting excited. There have been a lot of last-minute calls. It will make everyone happy.”

The regional focus of the festival is reaching Latino families across Ohio and Michigan and nearby Indiana. The wider event promotion has attendees expected from Ft. Wayne, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Adrian, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Defiance, Lorain, and Columbus.

“We’ve had more sponsors from the Columbus area, which is really great,” said Ms. Molina. “Those sponsors usually get involved with the Columbus Latino festival, which is beautiful and runs throughout two or three blocks of downtown there. A lot of people in Columbus are noticing the Toledo festival.”

Los Mariachis Locos of the Glass City

The family-friendly event will feature plenty of kids’ activities throughout the day, including the Fire House, where Toledo firefighters will teach kids about how to escape a burning home safely. Sheriff John Tharp’s Lucas County Sheriff’s Office will provide free fingerprinting, according to Linda De la Peña of the Sheriff’s Dept.

The Family Children’s Activity Area will be open noon to 5 p.m. and will include performances by schoolchildren from the L. Hollingworth School for the Talented & Gifted, where many Latino elementary-age children attend.

The Toledo Zoo and Imagination Station will provide educational and hands-on activities, Home Depot will help kids either to build a fire truck or floral storage box, OLA will conduct a children’s mural painting, and the Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center will provide activities para los niños.

The Toledo Blade will be taking photographs for attendees on a first-come, first-serve basis, from 4:00 until 9:00PM. Other active participants with the MidWest LatinoFest committee are: La Prensa, WNWO, Latino media outlets, the Spanish American Organization (SAO), and other Latino and veteran organizations.


Copyright © 1989 to 2013 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/28/13 19:14:10 -0700.




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