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Hagerstown Hispanic Festival kicks off with salsa, sizzle and soccer

September 16, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Romana Rodriguez, left, and Jocelyn Villaman look over a vendor's selections Sunday at the sixth annual Hagerstown Hispanic Festival at Fairgrounds Park.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

With the beat of Latino music and the sizzle of carne asada and tortillas on the grills in the background, hundreds of people mingled and learned more about area businesses and nonprofits as the sixth annual Hagerstown Hispanic Festival kicked off early Sunday afternoon.

Live music, dance groups, and a soccer — or futbol — tournament also were planned for the festival, held at the north end of Hagerstown’s Fairgrounds Park.

The goal of the festival is to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, inviting the community at-large, and to raise money for scholarships, said Sila Alegret-Bartel, vice president of the Hispanic Association of Hagerstown.

Proceeds from the festival, including the fee for tables, go toward Hagerstown Community College scholarships for Hispanic residents of Washington County, said Diana Reyes, president of the Hispanic Association of Hagerstown. She said that this past year, nine scholarships, ranging from $250 to $500, were awarded.

The event had several sponsors, including JLG, PNC Bank and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Before the soccer tournament, dance groups and live music started, people were making their way to the various tables, checking out food, toys, jewelry and clothes.

One of the busiest tables was sponsored by Meritus Medical Center and the Washington County Health Department, where officials asked visitors to fill out forms about their health status and needs.

The paper surveys, which were available in Spanish, were being done in an effort to better meet the community’s health needs and improve the community’s health, said Allen Twigg, Meritus’ director of behavioral services.

Jim Luther, 33, of Hagerstown, was pushing a stroller that was holding his 9-month-old daughter, McKenna, as he and his son, Addison, 8, checked out the festivities.

Luther said his wife, Holly, was working at a table for the health department. This is the third year the family has stopped by the festival.

Addison was enjoying the music, but didn’t know if he was going to dance.

“I like it that my mom’s here,” Addison said.

One of the tables Addison stopped by was run by Maria Huaman of Silver Spring, Md.

Huaman said it was her second year at the festival. She was selling a variety of Peruvian items, including clothing, jewelry and toys, which were made by her family in Peru, she said.

Christina Diaz, 39, of Greencastle, Pa., had a table at the event to get word out about the home-based cake pop business she started last year.

Diaz was offering free samples, including a German chocolate variety.

“We’re melting,” said Diaz, owner of Christina’s Pops.

Anthony Barrera, 28, of Hagerstown, enjoyed a chocolate cake pop and was heading over to have an El Salvadoran pupusa with beef.

Barrera said he came to the festival to support the community and to spread the word about a new church, Iglesia De Dios Jehovah El Buen Pastor, at 1009 Brill Way in Hagerstown. The church is part of the Church of God.

Barrera is one of the leaders of the church, which opened last week and has 23 members so far. Services, which are in Spanish, are held at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays.

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