Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Latino Fest thrives in downtown venue

October 9, 2006


Margaret Perkins-McGuinness heard success stories Sunday.

She wanted to bring Lawrence's ever-growing Latin American community into the heart of Lawrence - partially to connect with the larger local community, partially to connect with services they may be able to access easily.

"We wanted to provide resources and agencies that could benefit the whole family," said Perkins-McGuinness, coordinator with the Roger Hill Volunteer Center.

So, for the first time, the volunteer center and other organizers brought the annual Latino Fest to South Park - coupling community members with health and social services groups.

During the day, she said, the stories began to trickle in.

For example, a man approached the breast cancer awareness table set up along the park's walkway. He grabbed a few cancer awareness brochures - all printed in Spanish - because his mother died from breast cancer and he wanted his wife and sister to understand how to detect it.

Mary Robles wears a typical Colombian hat at her booth during the celebration of Latin American culture in South Park. The hat was voted the most typical Colombian hat by the Colombian people, Robles said.

Mary Robles wears a typical Colombian hat at her booth during the celebration of Latin American culture in South Park. The hat was voted the most typical Colombian hat by the Colombian people, Robles said.

"I just thought, 'Oh, how wonderful,'" Perkins-McGuinness said.

And he wasn't alone. Of the 500 or so people who came to the afternoon festival, about half were Latin American, said organizer Lydia León.

León said that when the volunteer center and her organization, the Latino Community Coalition, brought the event to the park, she had no idea what the turnout might be.

"We weren't sure what to expect," she said. "Next year, it'll have to be bigger."

And maybe next year, someone could keep Christian Moody away from the jalapeños.

The day was packed with events and music - one of the highlights being the jalapeño-eating contest, where folks stared down thousands of Scoville units, unflinching.

Jason Castillo, 10, displays the Panama flag face painting he received at the celebration of Latin American culture in South Park. Sunday afternoon's celebration featured authentic food, music, clothing, artifacts and dancing.

Jason Castillo, 10, displays the Panama flag face painting he received at the celebration of Latin American culture in South Park. Sunday afternoon's celebration featured authentic food, music, clothing, artifacts and dancing.

Well, maybe there was a little flinching. Moody, the former Kansas University basketball player, sat down at a table with a half-dozen other contestants, ready to scarf down peppers.

"I need the rest of this can next to me, so I can get some more," Moody said, pulling a half-can of peppers closer to him.

When the eating began, Moody won by just a hair. Afterward, he looked like someone maced him - eyes red and squinty, occasionally waving his tongue outside his mouth.

There also were plenty of tunes from the Peruvian group Taqui Sisicuna, a dancing troupe from Lawrence, and another Peruvian musician who played pipes and whatnot.

Plus, DJs spun Latin records while parents and kids, faces of all colors, danced along.


Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 11 years, 5 months ago

A person who speaks 3 languages is called trilingual. A person who speaks 2 languages is called bilingual. A person who speaks 1 language is called American.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 5 months ago

Chili= a stew Chile=a country chilly(adjective)=dang it cooled off! Chilly(slang)=Will's a chilly dude! All pronounced exactly the same yet profoundly different.

stater1977 11 years, 5 months ago

I don't care to argue about it. . .I just know I like tamales. . . .

Aiko 11 years, 5 months ago

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho , you are a fool if you believe what you typed above!

dantet0326 11 years, 5 months ago

I don't know what happened with the subject about the Feria Hispana.

I just want to let everyone know that the Festival was a huge success and I am certain that next year will be an even better success. The entertainment was awesome! I wanted to dance so bad, I just can't do turns well in grass. :o)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 5 months ago

"Am I missing something?"

Pretty much everything, I'd say.

Todd 11 years, 5 months ago

In America we have freedom. Freedom to speak whatever language we want and to tell the redneck hillbillys that don't like it to jump in a lake.

The festival was nice and I hope it can become an annual event.

geekin_topekan 11 years, 5 months ago

What I don't get is why can't I cash a check today because my bank is closed to celebrate the discovery of Cuba by a Spanish speaking church extremist that held the philosophy of covert or die?

EvaTrujillo 11 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, that Macon 47 was clearly off-topic in this article. I'll go next year. (If chile is served, make sure they don't spell it chili unless it is the hamburger/bean stew stuff.)

Kelly Powell 11 years, 5 months ago

whoa there todd! those redneck hillbillies are the ones who speak creole and are the ones who speak, at the very least,spanglish.....the main problem is that most of the country does not get the chance to use the second language they try to teach at schools....You might as well try to learn latin.

Todd 11 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, I shouldn't associate the last vestige of real culture in this country with self appointed pundits on this msg board.

KS has a real low % of foreign born people yet a very vocal minority that complains about it. Apparently it's easier to be heard if you are ignorant. (or at least repetitive)

Raymond Munoz 11 years, 5 months ago

The event was awesome! It was a great success and I think Lydia León, Margaret Perkins-McGuinness, and everyone else that brought it together deserve a HUGE round of applause. Judging from how the event has grown since just last year, I can see next year's Feria being magnitudes bigger and better! One suggestion... how about a fajita taco eating contest next year instead of jalapeños? That way I can enter and take down Christian Moody (who seems like a good guy and took a sample tube of toothpaste to wash down the jalapeño taste after the contest!)

prioress 11 years, 5 months ago

Why are todays "new Americans" so hesitant To learn engish? =============== Yes, you are missing something; being bilingual is a positive around the world, except in the U.S. Mexican and other South and Central American immigrants are learning the culture and the language at about the same speed as past immigrant populations. Look at the second generation and they resemble, for the most part, the other immigrant waves we have seen in the past.

Raymond Munoz 11 years, 5 months ago

Having to push 1 for English has nothing to do with illegal aliens running the country, Macon. It has everything to do with companies and their marketing strategies. When you have billions of dollars of disposable income, and you speak a language other than English, you can be damn sure companies are going to pick up on that in order to better their bottom line. So if you hate having to push 1 for English, why don't you go after the Harvard MBA or corporate CEO that came up with the idea in the first place?

oldgoof 11 years, 5 months ago

I think Macon must have been thinking of "people to people" program to help with our international cultural understandings. :)

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 5 months ago

Oh God! Is macon associated with that Hite place on 6th. They had the same innane thing about pressing one for english on their sign a while ago. I guessed, even before I read through the posts that there would be a racist comment or two here, but I didn't expect it from the source it came from. Sometimes macon47 says things that are thought provoking, but this thing about English is racist. It is veiled as something else, but there it is. There ISN'T a national language in this country. Even if there was, how does it hurt if someone is speaking a different language? If anything, it would only hurt the person who didn't speak the predominant language. As it is, English has been dumbed down over the years so that more Americans can understand. Besides this country was discovered by people who didn't speak English. When they arrived, they found people who already lived here who didn't speak English. But I know: MIGHT MAKES RIGHT!!!!!!

And I'm not saying that learning English won't make people's lives easier if they live in this country, I'm saying: What do you care?! What does it have to do with you?!

I wish I would have known about the festivities. Maybe next year.

weterica 11 years, 5 months ago

"Why are todays "new Americans" so hesitant To learn engish? For all the trouble they go To becoming "citizens" and then only care To speak in their native tougue seems a bit duplicitous." -macon

I totally agree with macon and his revisionist (or possibly just fabricated for his own needs, or maybe just ignorant) history about how fast immigrants today learn English as opposed to past immigrants! And to add "duplicitous" in order to allude to some sort of conflicted allegiance, well that just brings back the great memories of Japanese internment camps that were such a proud moment in our nation's history (among so very many)!

It's just so fun and cool to say today's immigrants learn English slower than past immigrants-it's not true, and in fact immigrants are learning English faster than ever before; but man, when you say this stuff a lot, it starts being true! It's so fun to make lies true! It's like changing history. So, so, fun! And when it's done with a touch of old fashioned ignorance of fact and xenophobia, well, boy howdy! I start giggling like Rush Limbaugh after a rail of oxy.

quote: "U.S. immigrants are making the transition to speaking English much more quickly than did past immigrants. Historically, this transition took three generations, with adult immigrants who often did not learn English, children who were bilingual in English and their parents' language, and a third generation that spoke English almost exclusively.

Today, however, more first- and second-generation Americans are becoming fluent in English. In a study that followed more than 5,200 second-generation immigrant children in the Miami and San Diego school systems, Rumbaut and Princeton University professor of sociology Alejandro Portes found that 99 percent spoke fluent English and less than one-third maintained fluency in their parents' tongues by age 17."

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