This Sunday, Aug. 21, El Centro Cultural will host the 17 Annual Festival Hispano at the Millsboro Little League Complex from noon until 6 p.m., as a celebration of Hispanic culture and community.
“The event was actually created back in 1995,” explained organizer Francisco Hernandez. “It started out in Georgetown. It was the result of a survey conducted which said there were not enough events in the Sussex County area that deal will arts and culture. So a group of community leaders got together and decided to create this festival.”
The free event, which is open to the public, was originally held in a church park in Georgetown but soon outgrew that venue.
“In the beginning it was very, very small. Just a few hundred people that came to the event… Last year, we had over 6,000 people attend. This year, we have a waiting list for people who want to be vendors at our festival. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year.”
Two main stages will offer various performances throughout the day.
“It’s a variety. There are some artists that sing. There are some artists who perform typical dances from their country. We have a group that does dances from Puerto Rico. We have a group that comes from New York, and they do a dance from Chili,” said Hernandez. “We also have a group of children who do different dances from different parts of Mexico, so they wear different costumes depending on the region and they do different dances.”
Multiple food vendors will also be on site, and attendees can pay a small sum to taste various authentic foods from local restaurants.
“We mostly have food vendors. We try to stay local for the most part. There are a lot of restaurants in Georgetown,” Hernandez noted. “We have a lot of restaurants from Peru.”
The festival is very family-friendly, Hernandez said, adding that he hopes many people will bring their children to enjoy the day.
“We have a children’s area,” he explained. “This is the first time they will have a stage. We have two young girls who volunteer from another organization, called La Casita, where they work with children. They’re preparing different activities to do with the children. We’ll have face painting and a moon bounce.”
A new addition to the festival this year is a friendly competition for the best representation of one’s own country’s traditional garb.
“In order to make the festival more interactive this year, we’re asking people who are coming to the event to come dressed in their typical costumes from their countries,” he said. “If you’re from Mexico, wear something you would typically wear in Mexico. Same for if you’re from Columbia or Guatemala… What we’re going to do is have a contest, and whoever represents their country best according to their costume is going to win a prize. We’re asking both adults and children to participate.”
Hernandez said the festival will have an information table set up where members of the community will be able to ask questions regarding the festival and Hispanic culture, as well as pick up a program booklet detailing the day’s events.
He added that planning for the festival begins each year in April and takes a lot of time and hard work, but the community response is well worth it.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding,” he said. “Every year, we see an increase of other cultures coming to the festival – not just Latinos. We’ve seen Caucasian people coming to the festival, African-Americans, and the community really does look forward to the event. This is the only type of event that goes on in this area that focuses on Hispanic culture.”
Hernandez noted that there will be plenty of security at the festival throughout the day, ensuring people have a safe and happy time.
“We just want to invite everyone to come to the festival, come out with their family and have a good time.”
For more information on Festival Hispano, visit www.elcentrocultural.com or call (302) 745-6828. The Millsboro Little League Complex is located at 200 W. State Street in Millsboro.