Hispanic heritage celebrated at event Saturday in Fairfield

An all-day event on Saturday will celebrate Latino and Hispanic culture and the many contributions to the community.

“The main purpose of the event is to celebrate Hispanic roots, traditions and culture in a very authentic way through food, music, dance and art, but we also wanted to have a second part to it, which is an expo that connects with the community and the library to share meaningful and valuable resources,” said Abriljoanna (April) Huerta, public services associate at Fairfield Lane Library, who also serves as a  primary organizer of the event, along with her co-worker, Odalis Jiménez-Linares.

We have a huge passion to make sure we recognized the needs and relevance of an event like this to the community, she said.

The Fairfield Lane Library will present the Second Annual Hispanic Heritage Festival and Expo on Saturday both at the library and in Village Green Park in Fairfield. The event is free and open to the public.

The expo portion of this year’s event will include more than 45 community agencies, service organizations, small businesses, educational institutions, health services, and more — all with a focus on Latino and Hispanic communities. Most of the participating agencies and organizations already have strong relationships with the Hispanic community, and many of them are Hispanic led.

“I’ve been raised in the area, so I have seen how many people who are Latino, who need these resources, and they aren’t aware of these resources. So, I’ve always wanted to continue to find ways to connect them to these resources,” Huerta said.

It’s important for people to feel they belong and there’s a place for them in the community, she said.

“I love seeing families come in, and it’s great to see the smiles on their faces when they realize there’s representation here in the community, or when they experience activities that are geared toward their culture, or having books that are in Spanish,” Huerta said. “I love doing this, because it’s so amazing to see all of these families so happy to be here and having a good time.”

The library continues to see an increased number of Hispanic patrons that come into the library, and there are more Spanish books available.

“I think this is a step toward trying to provide more resources for our International community,” said Huerta.

In 2010, the Hispanic population in the Greater Cincinnati area was 49,618 people. In 2020, the Hispanic population was 73,707. This represents an increase of an increase of 24,089 individuals, between 2010 and 2020, which is approximately a 48.5 percent increase.

“We do want to show people that there are not only services specifically for the Hispanic community, but that we also bring a lot to the table to be able to showcase that, and with the festival, it’s important to celebrate our culture. Our culture is beautiful, and we want to show its many dimensions,” said Odalis Jiménez-Linares, public services associate at Fairfield Lane Library.

Fairfield Lane Library has partnered with the City of Fairfield and a number of other community organizations like the Fairfield Family YMCA and the Fairfield Community Arts Center, among others, to bring the event to the community.

“We want to show people that we have a rich arts culture with a lot to offer, and we want to celebrate that,” Jiménez-Linares said. For example, April created the art for the festival last year as well as for this year.

The entertainment offerings have expanded this year, including more live musical performances. Two traditional artisans will also have their art on display and available for purchase. The Touch-A-Truck event will appeal to younger children. And a variety of food trucks will offer authentic cuisine.

In addition to the activities and performances outdoors, Fairfield Lane Library will host a variety of indoor activities. There will be a free raffle and attendees can sign up to get a free raffle ticket to win children’s books and other items. The library’s Teen Zone will offer activities for teens.

Entertainment throughout the day will include poetry readings by local authors Victor Velez and Manuel Iris; Latin dance lessons on the Green with Malinda Osborne; music by DJ Tony Pabon, Rock en Español with Daglio and a performance from Cincinnati Balia Dance Company. Plus, there will be family-friendly crafts and activities throughout the day. Advance registration is required for several of the events. For a complete list of events and activities, check out the festival’s Facebook page.

“It’s important for the Latino community and the community-at-large to come together to learn more about the different countries and the different people that make up the Hispanic community here in the area. But I think the most important thing, like April said, is to recognize that we’re here and that we have made valuable contributions to the entire community,” Jiménez-Linares said.

Valerie Simmons, branch manager of Fairfield Lane Library said in addition to putting on a large-scale, annual festival, the library has worked hard to implement programming throughout the year that continues to connect the Hispanic community to events at the library, such as a storytime in Spanish that is done once a month, and ESL (English as a Second Language) classes.

The event is a good example of how the community can come together, both in support of one another, and building knowledge and opportunity, but also to celebrate culture and have fun together, she said.

“I’m most excited about how the event, and the response to the event has grown since last year,” Simmons said. “I’m so proud of April and Odalis for not just creating the idea for the event, but for making all of this come into reality. It’s such a beautiful example of how public libraries can be a true community space and a place where everyone can be celebrated, and everyone is welcome,” said Simmons.

How to go

What: Hispanic Heritage Festival and Expo

Where: Fairfield Lane Library, 1485 Corydale Drive and Village Green Park

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday

Cost: Free. Food and beverages are available for purchase.

More info: For more information about this and other programs at the Lane Libraries, call (513) 858-3238, or visit the Lane website at www.lanepl.org. Also, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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