On Monday, April 15, a bright red chili pepper walked around exploring all of the campus.
Merari Rosas, the vice president of the Latin American Student Association – or LASA, inhabited the chili pepper costume
for a few hours to inform students about the Latin Festival.
Packed with art, music, games, and free food, the Latin Festival gives students a nice glimpse of Latin culture through various forms of entertainment.
The LASA hosted the Latin Festival on April 17, in Brier Hall, in partnership with the DSC (Diversity Student Center).
For the past four years the festival has been known as the Cinco de Mayo celebration and was celebrated on the fifth of May, commemorating the victory of indigenous Mexicans over the French in the Battle of Puebla; however the name of the celebration has been changed back to the Latin Festival as it was known when it was held before five years (Bustos).
By using the term Latin, the festival acknowledges all Latin countries “We changed it because we didn’t want it to be just about Mexicans,” said Rosas.
Enforcing this was poster boards that informed students of the different Latin countries, and small facts pertaining to each of them.
But no matter what name the festival carries, the entertainment provided is a constant giving students a chance for a fun break in between their classes.
Throughout the program there was a Mariachi band playing Spanish songs, earning applauses from the crowd, and an eruption of cheers when well known songs like Macarena and La Bamba were played.
Additionally there were volunteers from the audiences who sang Spanish songs with the band playing music for them in the background. The popularity of the band and music could be seen by the filled seats in front of the stage.
With music playing in the background, students were invited to play games. They included “Toss rings to the Cactus,” “Mini Soccer,” “Pin the tail on the Donkey,” and “Aim for the Cactus Baskets,” which was the most popular amongst the students. Students who won in any game were given candy prizes, just the thing students needed to perk up in between classes.
The main factor that piqued the students’ interests was the sign pointing towards free food. People got a taste of authentic Mexican food as the event sponsored food from Taqueria La Raza located just a few blocks from the college on 196th St and 68th Ave.
Food options included chicken and beef tacos or burritos, with the meat served hot off the grill. And for those who didn’t eat meat, vegetarian options were available.
While in line for the food, students got a chance to see art work – mostly paintings – done by Latin Americans. Much of the artwork received positive feedback by those in line.
The whole event was spearheaded by the president of the LASA club, Jackie Gonzalez, partnering with the head of DSC, Diana Bustos. Gonzalez tirelessly devoted her time with the preparations of the event, managing numerous trips up and down the stairs, while still managing a smile on her face when someone asked her a question. Though there were many volunteers to help with the decorations and settings, Gonzalez got her hands working too.
While expressing appreciation of the event to Bustos and Gonzalez, they both commented on how hard they work to get this type of response from the students.
“They were committed,” said Bustos complimenting the LASA club about the success of this event.
Their commitment can also be seen by the helpfulness of the members from the LASA club and volunteers at the booths. Students were helped courteously regarding questions about the event and information about the LASA club and DSC as well as encouraged to sign up for LASA.
The success of the Latin festival wasn’t a single time occurrence. In the 2010-2011 school year, the then-known Cinco de Mayo festival won an award for the best event of the year.
According to Jessica Gonzalez, the secretary of the LASA club, the event had the most people and was run smoothly.
“The people loved it,” Gonzalez said, pretty much summarizing the typical response students have towards this event.
For those students who missed this year’s Latin Festival and plan to be here next year, there’s no need to worry. They can be on the lookout for the Festival sometime next spring quarter.
Like all events on campus, the date, time and location will be advertised on the campus Web site, and on sign boards all over campus courtyard.
If students spot the red chili pepper around campus, then they know that the Latin Festival is coming soon.
Published in The Triton Review, Vol. 29, Issue 1, April 29, 2013
Click to read Vaseela's other articles
Bustos, Diana. Personal interview. 17 Apr, 2013.
Gonzalez, Jackie. Personal interview. 17 Apr, 2013.
Gonzalez, Jessica. Personal interview. 17 Apr, 2013.
Rosas, Merari. Personal interview. 16 Apr, 2013.