Spice of life: Hagerstown Hispanic Festival

September 17, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

For a few local students, the Hagerstown Hispanic Festival is not just a celebration.

It could help them pay their college tuition, explained Diana Reyes, event organizer, a founder and president of the Hispanic Association of Hagerstown.

The third-annual Hagers-town Hispanic Festival is set for Sunday at Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park.

The event celebrates the shared cultural experience among the region's growing population of Latinos and is hosted by the Hispanic Association of Hagerstown, a local volunteer-run group.

"It's a way to get a piece of culture," said Sila Alegret-Bartel, who's vice president and co-founder of the Hispanic Association of Hagerstown.


But the event is also a fundraiser.

Proceeds go toward a scholarship fund for Hispanic students attending Hagerstown Community College. Last year's event generated $1,000.

"We're looking to give out more," Reyes said.

She said $3,000 has already been raised this year through vendors and sponsors.

As for entertainment, there's a soccer tournament, retailers with ethnic wares and Latin music and dancing. There will also be Zumba demonstrations led by Reyes and other local instructors.

Food prices are between $7 and $10 and includes cuisine from Mexico, Cuba and El Salvador.

Last year's Hispanic Festival fetched 1,400 attendees, up from the 800 or so who attended the 2007 festival, according to Alegret-Bartel's estimates.

Reyes said organizers are planning for 2,000 attendees on Saturday, and if interest continues to grow, the Hispanic Association of Hagerstown might consider hosting other cultural events throughout the year.

If you go ...

WHAT: Hagerstown Hispanic Festival

WHEN: Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20

WHERE: Fairgrounds Park, Hagerstown

COST: Free festival admission

MORE: Go to For more information, call Diana Reyes at 240-217-5119.

Other hispanic festivals

These Hispanic festivals are happening in the region:

Hispanic festivals are planned in Martinsburg, W.Va., Chambersburg, Pa., and Shippensburg, Pa., in October, said Sergio Polanco, an organizer of those events. Polanco, who lives in Hagerstown, hosts a Spanish-language radio show on Chambersburg-based FM Talk 103.7.

Saturday Sept. 27 - Frederick Community College, Frederick, Md. Noon to 6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 3 - Festival Latino 2009. Noon to 6 p.m. War Memorial Park, Martinsburg

Saturday, Oct. 3 - Latino Explosion. 4 p.m. Shippensburg University, Shippensburg

There is a tentative festival planned in Chambersburg on Oct. 4. For more information, call Sergio Polanco, 717-552-1981.

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