Latino festival returns to courthouse square

This year’s Latino festival will feature traditional Aztec music and dance alongside the cultural celebration’s perennial festivities.

The festival will take place from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday in the courthouse square.

The Aztec band, Tonatzin Nahui, also performed at Da de los Nios/ Da de los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) in early May. Other performances will include all-female mariachi band Banda Torcacitas, Xtreme dancers, St. Mary’s children’s choir and the Marshalltown High School’s Latin dance team. The 13-piece Banda Habanera will round out the day from 5 to 7 p.m.

Jenny Etter, Marshalltown Central Business District director, said Latino culture has many different subcultures. Bringing those subtle differences to the surface is part of the festival’s fun. It keeps the celebration fresh.

“It will always be kind of different,” Etter said. “And that is kind of cool.”

Etter said the Latino festival is reflective of Marshalltown’s culture, so when she took over as CBD director, she had no doubt she would continue to help coordinate the event.

The usual collective of vendors offering Latin food and children’s activities – including face painting, hula hoop dancing and piatas – will also be on hand. More than 20 vendors will be at the celebration offering food and entertainment.

Local Latino advocacy group Immigrant Allies will have a booth again this year after having abstained from last year’s Latino festival.

Joa LaVille, chair of the steering committee for Immigrant Allies, said the group will have draw-your-own tattoos and dreamcatcher building for children. She said she wanted the group to do something simple that would allow its volunteers an opportunity to interact with festival goers.

“It’s a great day for the entire community,” she said. “We embrace diversity and the Latino fest certainly falls in line with that.”

LaVille said she would like to see more heritage festivals. She said she knows many Latinos who are curious about Burmese culture. Everyone has a heritage that he or she can celebrate, she said.