The first-ever Hispanic Heritage Fiesta will celebrate cultural diversity in West Michigan from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, with live performances and DJs, dancing lessons, and food trucks and vendors who will provide a mix of cuisines from across Latin America.
The Rev. Jared Cramer, pastor at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, has helped spearhead the festival. He said he has been pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of interest and support.
The Facebook page for the event has generated 6,000 “interested” people, with more than 500 saying they will attend.
“There’s a perception that our community is not as diverse as it is,” Cramer said. “The Hispanic community in West Michigan is a very significant part of the community along the Lakeshore, even true in Grand Haven, more than people realize.”
Alcohol will be served in a fenced-in area on Fourth Street, which will be closed between Columbus and Washington avenues during the event. The Grand Haven City Council approved the plans despite concerns from Mayor Geri McCaleb and Councilman Dennis Scott about the serving of alcohol at Central Park.
The location of food trucks has yet to be determined, while portable restrooms are also being pursued for the festival. The city’s public safety department has recommended keeping Columbus Avenue open, but has yet to review the full plans.
Free activities for children will be held between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with Latina Disney princess and pinatas. A schedule of DJs and live performers is in the works, according to Cramer, but slots are nearly filled.
At council’s meeting this past Monday night, Councilmen Josh Brugger and Mike Fritz shared enthusiasm for the new event.
“I am bummed this is our first Hispanic festival,” Brugger said. “It should have happened a long time ago, but I am thrilled that this is our first.”
A 15-member leadership team for the fiesta – including leaders from the local United Way, the Migrant Resource Council and local business leaders – has raised $9,000 toward a goal of $20,000 to $25,000 in about a month of fundraising.
There are still openings for market vendors and food trucks, while sponsors and volunteers are also needed. Visit grandhavenfiesta.org to become a sponsor. Contact Alexa Redick at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about becoming a volunteer.