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Hispanic Festival keeps Hagerstown park hopping

September 20, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER
  • Brian Nalanis, left, Jesse Nalanis and Erick Sanchez sip bottles of soda Sunday at the Hispanic Festival at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Hundreds poured into Fairgrounds Park on Sunday to celebrate Hagerstown's Hispanic community with food, music, dancing and fun.

"The turnout is amazing and it is not even our peak yet," said Diana Reyes, president of the Hispanic Association of Hagerstown, which hosts the event.

Four friends created the event in 2007 as a fundraiser for Hispanic student scholarships, and a way to bring the people and culture together for a great time, according to the festival website.

The park was alive Sunday with the sounds and smells of Hispanic culture.

Hispanics love to have fun, Reyes said, and the festival schedule was packed with activities.

Starting at noon, music, demonstrations of belly dancing and hula hooping got the park hopping.

Reyes said the festival was scheduled to run until 6 p.m.

Sponsors and vendor fees make the event possible and helped it raise $3,000 last year, she said.

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All the proceeds go toward scholarships to Hagerstown Community College for Hispanic students, she said.

Jonathan Almonte, 20, and Guillermo Perez, 36, were two of the nine recipients this year, she said.

Almonte, a computer science major at HCC, said the money helped him pay for books.

Perez, an industrial technology major, said he was grateful to be able to pursue more education.

Looking around the festival Sunday, Perez said he enjoys coming to celebrate his heritage and spend time with friends.

There are more Hispanics in Hagerstown than some people might think, and the festival was a great way to bring them together and educate nonHispanics at the same time, Reyes said.

For those from the culture, Almonte said the only way to make the festival better would be to make it bigger.

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