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Hispanic festival draws hundreds to celebration

September 17, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

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HAGERSTOWN - Marta Trumble moved to the United States from Colombia about 10 years ago, but said she still cherishes her South American culture and wants to pass on that pride to her two daughters.

"It's something only I can give them," the Hagerstown resident said.

On Sunday, she took her girls to Fairgrounds Park for the first Hispanic Festival. Jessica Trumble, 8, and her sister Andrea, 4, danced and spun around in long colorful dresses.

"I like the rhythm of the music and the beats people can sing and dance to," Jessica said.

About 350 people attended the event hosted by the Hispanic Association of Hagerstown. Organizers said it was the first festival, but it will not be the last.

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Sila-Alegret Bartel, who helped organize the festival, said it was a celebration of Hispanic heritage and an acknowledgment of the growing Hispanic population locally.

"We are happy people," said Carlos Reyes, another organizer. "We like music. We like dancing."

The festival also included informational booths, food, activities for children and a soccer tournament.

Carols Reyes' daughter and fellow organizer, Diana Reyes, said there are no events for Hispanics locally. Last year, she went to Frederick, Md., for a festival and decided Hagerstown was ready for a similar event.

"People are eager to celebrate their culture," she said.

Sophia Suarez of Chambersburg, Pa., said she agreed that there are few events for Hispanics in the area. She took her daughter, Lily Nolan, 10, to Sunday's festival.

Suarez, whose father is Puerto Rican, said they enjoy the food and the music.

Montserrat Plaia of Hagerstown is from Spain and teaches Spanish at Clear Spring Middle School. She was at Sunday's festival with her fianc, John Kirkendall, of Frederick.

The pair, who will be married in December, watched the Pasin Vallenata Band perform before leaving their seats to dance.

"She loves to dance," Kirkendall said.

"And he follows me," Plaia said.

The couple are taking salsa lessons in Frederick.

"It's very full of life," he said.

Sunday's festival also included tango dancing and other performers. Tom Seward-Arroyo, a faculty member at Hagerstown Community College and a festival organizer, said that as more festivals are held, the association hopes to raise money for scholarships for Hispanic students.

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