Unity was the overarching theme of the fourth annual Colorado Latino Festival that brought Latin music, dancing and food Sunday to Boulder’s Central Park.
“We came out to embrace our culture,” said Nicole Tromble, who lives in Falcon and was hoping to find connections to Panama at the festival. “You don’t see a lot of people you can interact with in everyday life who can relate to your culture.”
The festival brings businesses, artists and the community together with an overall theme of unity. This year’s sponsors are the city of Boulder, Latino Chamber of Commerce and a variety of local businesses and organizations.
“We are not homogeneous,” said Barrio E’ director Tamil Maldonado, who produced the festival with her husband, Jose Beteta. “We cook differently. We express ourselves differently. We like to highlight everyone. We want to highlight unity. We want to really bring that community sense into play.”
The festival was initially scheduled for June 23. Barrio E’ on June 22 announced on Facebook that poor weather conditions in the forecast, which called for showers and thunderstorms, and the “very real and announced threats of immigration raids by the White House,” led to the “hard decision” to postpone the festival.
“We felt part of our community wouldn’t be able to participate,” Maldonado said. “Our festival is to be welcome to everyone.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement was expected to send agents into 10 cities, including Denver, to begin efforts to deport undocumented family members on the festival’s original date. The day before the raid was expected, President Donald Trump announced a delay in the initiative, in an effort to give Democrats a chance to revise asylum laws, according to prior news reports.
Boulder declared itself a sanctuary city in January 2017, after unanimous support from city council members. The declaration has meant that the city refuses to comply with federal authorities by questioning, detaining or turning over people on the basis of immigration status.
For its first two years, the festival was held in Longmont. Organizers moved it to Boulder last year, Maldonado said, to draw attention to the city’s sanctuary city declaration and its commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive community.
Sunday’s festival featured entertainment on two stages by artists representing a range of Latin American countries.
Raquel Garcia, a 13-year-old from Westminster, sang a mix of well known pop songs and traditional Mexican songs, in both English and Spanish.
“Music is my passion,” she said. “I like to sing all types of music. I want people to forget all their problems when they listen to me.”
Several performing groups invited the audience to join in, while Zumba in between the performances also got people up and moving.
Boulder’s Karmin Barcenas said a highlight was the Aztec dancers.
“I just really like the culture and celebrating our roots,” she said. “It’s good energy, and it’s fun. We’ll be back next year.”
Along with entertainment, the festival included food vendors dishing up tamales, grilled meats and ceviche, plus vendor booths providing information about community services and artisans selling their wares.
The U.S. Census Bureau manned a booth to provide information about the upcoming 2020 Census and encourage festival goers to take part. A Supreme Court decision prevented President Trump from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, but there are still concerns that immigrants will be under counted.
“This is a population count, nothing more, nothing less,” Monica Perez, with the U.S. Census Bureau, told the crowd in between performances. “Getting counted brings money back to our communities. We need to be counted and not be invisible.”