September is National Hispanic Heritage month and a celebration of Hispanic culture, traditions and food is slated for downtown Sedalia the second Sunday of September.
The Sedalia Hispanic Heritage Festival is being organized by Gabriela Estrada, Cecilia Sotelo and Luis Pereira, all second generation Sedalia Hispanics.
Estrada and Sotelo both said Thursday that Sedalia’s Hispanic community began arriving in the late 1990s with many of that generation unable to speak English. Since that time, the community as grown substantially and their children, the second generation, are involved in the Sedalia area attending the schools, voting, becoming business owners or working in area industries.
“They’ve done an event similar to this in the past,” Estrada said. “It’s just never been as big and as well planned as what we’re trying to do. It’s basically just been within the Hispanic community, like word of mouth. With everything going on in the news recently with Donald Trump and all his comments, we just really felt that something like this was needed; to be a whole, instead of that separation we have felt in the past.”
Estrada was referring to New York billionaire Donald Trump, who is campaigning to receive the Republican nod for the 2016 presidential race. Trump stated that if he became president he would deport 11 million illegal Mexican immigrants and build a wall across the southern United States to prevent illegals from crossing the border. Trump also recently sparred with Hispanic news anchor Jorge Ramos, of Univision, during a press conference. Ramos is a U.S. citizen.
Estrada said she didn’t know the exact number of Hispanics in the Sedalia area but the population is still growing.
“The biggest growth was in the late ’90s and early 2000s,” she added.
Not only will the festival be a celebration, the organizers hope to bring the second generation young people and entrepreneurs, who may not be familiar with local services, together with vendors from various business fields.
“A lot of our sponsors have Hispanic people working for them,” Estrada said.
A 5 Que! Run will kick of the festival. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the run starting at 9 a.m. The cost is $20 with kids under 12 free. A free T-shirt and medals will be awarded at the event.
Estrada said the event has received great response in contributions and support, and any monies left over after the the festival will be contributed to Citizens Against Spouse Abuse (CASA) or to Child Safe of Central Missouri Inc. Eleven local area businesses have sponsored the festival.
“It’s been great,” Estrada said. “We’ve had a lot of bigger contributions, and as we’ve received more, we’ve been able to make (the festival) bigger.”
Due to contributions, the trio has been able to procure people from other cities to provide entertainment.
“This is a nonprofit event,” Sotelo added. “We’re not trying to make anything for our self. Like Gabby said, we’re just wanting to make a celebration. That first generation that came here, wasn’t able to communicate, but now they have us. We are here to help, as well, and we want to celebrate that.”
Sotelo said her parents brought her to Sedalia as a child.
“I grew up here,” she added.
After the 5 Que! is finished, additional events will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. The group is working with the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce, and they said they have received great support from Executive Director Angie Thomas.
“She been another great supporter,” Sotelo said. “We have been getting tons of good information from her.”
During the event, folkloric dancers and Mariachi Mexico, a band from Kansas City, will perform live. A “kid’s zone” and face painting will be provided for children while Hispanic food vendors will be available along with 10 business vendors. The event will also feature music with DJ Moreno, a car show and a bubble futbol game. Sedalia Mayor Stephen Galliher will also be in attendance.
Visitors may register at 1 p.m. for the bubble futbol game. It will be located at Second Street and Ohio Avenue; the cost is $40 per team of adult co-ed players, ages 16 and older. The tournament will run from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
“The support from the community has just been amazing,” Sotelo added.
“We want to thank our sponsors, because really, without them, I don’t think we would have been able to do as much,” Estrada added.
At present the women are looking for volunteers to help with the festival.
“We are going to need help with setting it up,” Sotelo said. “I really want to people to help with the 5 Que! just to stand at those intersections, for the traffic.”
The Sedalia Hispanic Heritage Festival will begin with a 5 Que! Run at 9 a.m. Other events will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 on Ohio Avenue from Fifth Street to Second Street. The event is open to everyone.
For more information and to register for the the 5 Que! Run, visit the Sedalia Hispanic Heritage Festival Facebook page. To volunteer for the festival, call Estrada at 904-305-5228, Sotelo at 287-7379 or Pereira at 473-3003.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.