The town will host its third annual Carnival Latino festival next Sunday to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic heritage month is Sept. 15 - Oct. 15.
The event started with a collaboration between First Baptist Church, which wanted to have a festival for Spanish-speaking families, and the town of Garner, which wanted to reach out to its Spanish-speaking population.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hispanics make up 10 percent of Garner’s population.
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The Rev. Abel Grande, a Spanish-speaking pastor at First Baptist Church, said he wanted the event to not just be about Hispanics, but for everyone to come together and learn about Hispanic culture.
“Hispanics are all different,” Grande said. “There are Cubans, Colombians, Guatemalans, all kinds of different countries and each country is different than the other.”
Grande said he doesn’t think segregation between the Spanish-speaking community in Garner and English speakers is a problem, but it can become a problem in the future if people don’t learn about one another.
That’s why he came up with the idea, Grande said.
“To unify Garner,” he said.
Town leaders see the same benefits.
Jill McAllister, the organizer of this year’s event, said town wanted to reach out to the Spanish-speaking commuity.
“We have one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in Wake County,” McAllister said. “In past 10 years we’ve seen that population almost double. There are several Latin-owned businesses in the area, and with the influx of Latin Americans in the area, we want to make sure they are appreciated and recognized.
In the past year, the church has played less of a role in the event, and the town has taken the lead, McAllister said.
She said the difference between this year’s event and last year’s, is the increase in entertainment, vendors and food trucks.
The food trucks include D’Burritos, Kocina Food Truck and Papusas y Tacos Marina. There will also be educational children’s craft booths, face painting, Loteria and live music in the form of three bands: Tercer Divisia, Jazziando and Bataque de Terriero.
Billy Marrero, the band director for Jazziando, said the type of music his band plays is Latin Jazz. There are no lyrics, just instrumentation.
“We play some standard jazz songs and give it the Latin feel,” Marrero said. “We use Latin percussion instruments to get people’s feet tapping. It’s kind of catchy and people like it.”
“We haven’t had any tomatoes thrown at us so far, so it looks like we’re doing good.”
Last year about 400 people attended the event. McAllister said she’s hoping for 600 this year. The event is free and open to the public.
“We’d like to keep growing it, and hopefully it can be something we do for several years to come,” McAllister said.
Want to go?
The event will take place on Sept. 13, from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. on the Garner Performing Arts Center’s back lawn. The address is 125 Avery Street. The event is a free, family-friendly event. For more information either call 919-661-4602 or visit www.garnernc.gov/CarnavalLatino.