Manchester event highlights varied Latino cultures
Lidia Rodriguez, of Manchester, prepares gorditas during the Latino Festival Saturday afternoon at Veteran's Park in Manchester. (JOSH GIBNEY/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER — Deciding that she wanted to become smarter about other Latino cultures, Irma Rosario soaked in the 13th annual Latino Festival on Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park.
“I wanted to see the different people from different countries,” the native of the Dominican Republic said after purchasing two empanadas at the booth occupied by the Don Quijote Restaurant.
“I wanted to see what they have that's different from my country and taste the different foods,” she said.
The event featured music and food from a host of Latino countries.
While food and music drew the crowd of thousands that enjoyed the festival during Saturday's sunny weather, the event is held to showcase Latino cultures, develop leadership among Latino youth and raise money for higher education, said Alejandro Urrita, president of Latinos Unidos de New Hampshire, which organizes the annual festival.
Since the festival began, the organization has provided more than $150,000 in college scholarships, he said.
“This organization has grown dramatically over the last 30 years,” Urrita said.
The event also featured addresses by some of New Hampshire's political leaders, including Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, Gov. John Lynch and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who marveled at a man in a costume that featured a large whip.
“I could use one of those (whips) down in Washington,” Shaheen said.
Some of the booths had altruistic motives, including one to educate people about bullying and another that allowed residents to register to vote. Many others used the event to attract new customers, with booths occupied by retailers such as Bank of America, Walgreen's, Comcast and Walmart.
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