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Spanish Fiesta

Hispanic Festival returns
for second year in Madison

By Pam Decker
Contributing Writer

MADISON, Ind. (Sept. 2002) – To recognize the growing Hispanic population in Jefferson County and its expanding influence on today’s culture, the second annual Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day will take place from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Broadway Fountain.
The festival will feature Latino music, including the live Mariachi band Zelaya, informational booths, arts and crafts for sale and, of course, authentic Mexican foods and dishes.
“We have a large Hispanic population (in Jefferson County), and the festival is a nice recognition of the culture,” says event director Shirley Kloepfer. Kloepfer started the annual festival last year with Julie Brown. Both women take a big interest in the Hispanic community after having served in the Peace Corps – Kloepfer in Panama and Brown in Colombia.

Spanish Fiesta

A Mariachi band
performs at last year's fest

“We got approval from the mayor and put it together,” Kloepfer said.
Kloepfer explained that the Awareness day is more important than ever with the rising population of Hispanics, not only in Jefferson County, but also across Indiana, where the statewide population is now at 3.5 million. Kloepfer also intends to recognize not just the “large Hispanic presence” in Jefferson County, but the immense influence the Hispanic culture has had on America since its beginnings.
“Hispanic culture has been around since the first explorers came to America. It has existed for many centuries,” explains Kloepfer.
After the success of last year’s event, Kloepfer anticipates an even larger turnout the second time around. She has more food ordered and ready to serve, since selling out completely last year. Kloepfer’s adult students who take her English-as-a-second-language course at Work One in the evenings will be preparing authentic Mexican dishes such as tamales, tacos and Mexican corn.
In addition to food, the Indianapolis-based Mariachi band, Zelaya, will be performing from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Broadway fountain as part of the festivities.
Educational booths will be at the fountain, each featuring a Spanish-speaking nation, such as Spain, Colombia and El Salvador. Arts and crafts will be sold, and Hispanic games and contests will be held for kids.
Kloepfer admits that the festival could not have been such a success without the help of local businesses and churches. She especially credits the Trinity United Methodist Church on Broadway and its minister, Nan Chizmar, for providing storage space and use of their bathrooms during the festival. Local businesses, such as Dattilo’s fruit market, Tapatio’s Mexican restaurant and El Camino grocery store have contributed to both years’ Awareness Day.
“Shirley told us about it, since we provide services for Mexicans in the community,” said Marcus Vasquez, owner of the El Camino on Lanier Drive. The two year-old business recently moved from downtown to the hilltop. It sells dry goods, Spanish music CDs and authentic Mexican foods and ingredients.
Kloepfer says that perhaps the most important thing to gain from the festival is a new appreciation of different cultures and peoples and the impact they have on our society.
“If you go to the festival, you will learn that the people are truly nice and also about food, culture and countries,” she said.

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