NEW BRITAIN - Thousands gathered at Walnut Hill Park Saturday to celebrate the cultures of Latin America.
Hosted by the Latino Coalition and Kingdom of Heaven on Earth Centers, the Latin Festival is meant to bring the Latino population of central Connecticut together in celebration.
In its second year, the festival expanded to feature more activities and vendors for all ages.
“It’s grown already in one year. I’m very happy to have it at Walnut Hill Park,” said Mayor Erin Stewart.
The weather could not have been better as children and adults made their way around the grounds.
Plenty of people were cooling off under the trees or dancing as musical guests took the Darius Miller Band Shell stage. Performers included Antonio y Joel Con La Branza, Indio TDR and El Predicador.
Food trucks were set up in the park, offering traditional dishes including rice and beans, fried plantains and fried pork.
Stewart said one of her favorite parts of the festival is the food, because of all the options. She also said she loves seeing the community come together.
Kids had fun in the designated Kids Fair, which featured inflatables, face-painting and other games.
Motivational speaker Victor Rodriguez Algarin returned this year.
While supplies lasted, on a first-come, first-served basis, organizers gave out free backpacks and haircuts to children in preparation for the first day of school. School supplies and a limited number of white shirts - compliant with the school district’s new universal uniform policy - were also distributed.
Community vendors had tables promoting their services. They included Central Connecticut State University, Telemundo of Hartford and Springfield, the New Britain public schools, ConnectiCare and the American Red Cross.
Last year, the Latino Coalition estimated, 4,500 adults and 1,500 children came to the festival, and it appeared that this year’s renewal matched, if not exceeded, those numbers.
Ivelissa Gracia of Hartford attended the festival for the first time. She said she likes the celebration of Latino culture.
Jackie Barbosa of New Britain said she came out to enjoy herself.
“It’s the best way to bring the community together, you get to see people you haven’t seen in a long time,” Barbosa said, adding that more community festivals and other events should be held during the year, both to bring people together and for attendees to relax and listen to music.
“It’s good for the mind and soul,” she said.
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.