Embracing Latin Culture through the Annual FIESTA!

“You won’t want to miss Fiesta this year, there are several things we are excited about,” said Juan Aguilar, Program Coordinator of the Hispanic League. This upcoming September 14th, 2019, the streets of Winston-Salem will again come alive to the beat of Latin music, sights of Latin dancers and the aroma of mouthwatering food. This annual multicultural event, which is now in its 27th year, is hosted by the Hispanic League of Winston-Salem.

For the past 27 years, the Hispanic League has been hosting their FIESTA event in downtown Winston-Salem, to promote diversity, celebrate Hispanic/Latino heritage and advance a cross-cultural understanding of the different cultures that make up a large percentage of our community. What started as a small multicultural festival has today become a renowned Winston-Salem tradition, boasting an average attendance of over 20,000 people. This statistic makes it one of the largest one-day festivals in the Triad.

Aguilar, who has been working with the Hispanic League since January of 2016, is excited about the various additions that make this year a unique one for those attending. This year, the Hispanic League will partner with BB&T to host a “Pre-Fiesta Kick-Off.” Offered free to the public, there will be a screening of the documentary, First Lady of the Revolution. The piece chronicles the tale of Henrietta Boggs, a young Southern Belle’s experiences exploring the mountainsides of Costa Rica, and her adventures as she becomes the First Lady when married to the President of Costa Rica. The event will take place at the A/perture Cinema, on Thursday, September 12th (reservations required).

Another new aspect of the celebration will be the introduction of the new Hispanic League App. “I think that this will be really cool as a way for us to reach the community,” Aguilar observed. The application, which is available on iOS and Android phone devices, will keep the community informed about the events, and various programs, that the Hispanic League will offer to the public.

The layout of the FIESTA is another item to change this year. No booths will run along 4th Street. “We believe this new layout will create a smaller, closer experience for vendors and attendees. The event will still be in its usual location, off Spruce Street and Poplar Street, yet now will not feel as spread out.

While there are many innovative changes for the annual festival, several things will remain the same. The celebration will also begin at 11:00 AM, with a naturalization ceremony by USCIS in the Hanesbrands Theater. This is the fourth time this ceremony will be performed at FIESTA, with an estimated 25 individuals becoming citizens of the United States. Directly following, will be the “Zumbathon,” offered to the public through a partnership with Novant Health. At 12:15 PM, Grammy Award-winning, Puerto Rican Salsa artist, Marlow, will be kicking off the music aspect of the celebration. The vibrant performance, which will also feature the Winston-Salem State University Jazz Ensemble II, is sure to get all dancing.

Another aspect of FIESTA that will not change is the return of the Sabor de Fiesta Passport. Available for purchase on the Hispanic League website, this “passport” will enable participants to enjoy samples of all the different cuisine offered at FIESTA. After enjoying the delectable food and beverages, patrons afterward can vote on who they think offered the best fare. The winning vendor will receive $100, as well as the “Saborde Fiestaplaque.

While the appealing food and live entertainment are what usually draws attendees to FIESTA, the event also offers unique arts and crafts, as well as vendors selling their distinctive jewelry and attire. The event, which will take place rain or shine, also boasts a “Healthy Living” area, as well as a fun-filled children’s area. Public parking garages are located on the corner of 4½ Street and Poplar and Cherry Street, near the Embassy Suites. Plus, on-street parking is available.

Closing the event this year will be a vivacious performance by the all-female mariachi group, Flor deToloache. This band provides an edgy, versatile, and fresh take on traditional Mexican music. Winners of a Latin Grammy Award for Best Ranchero Band, Flor de Toloache has been featured on world-renowned stages in Europe and India. The event, which is offered through a partnership with UNCSA, will be held at the Stevens Center, beginning at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available through www.uncsa.edu/performances.

While FIESTA is one of the Hispanic League’s most celebrated functions, it should be noted that the money generated from the event helps fund the various programs and scholarships the League offers to local Latin students. “This year, 43 scholarships were awarded to local students for a total of 454 scholarships,” Aguilar stated. “Our scholarship program value, which began in 2000, has now officially passed the $1 million mark!” Without events like the annual FIESTA, such scholarships would not be available to deserving students.

Established in 1992, the Hispanic League’s mission is to “Improve the quality of life for Hispanics/Latinos through community inclusion, education, health, and multicultural understanding.” For more information on the Hispanic League, visit www.hispanicleague.org, e-mail juan@hispanicleague.org, or call 336­770­1228.


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