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Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day

Madison event to showcase
culture and entertainment

Music, art, entertainment
and food to be featured

By Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(September 2010) – Shirley Kloepfer’s love of social work and interest in promoting cultural exchange has taken her around the globe. Whether it was serving in the Peace Corps or supervising groups of students on their first trip outside the United States, her travels combined service and education.

Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day

Photo provided

The 10th annual Hispanic Cultural
Awareness Day festival will
take place Sept. 18 at the
Broadway Fountain in Madison.

However, Kloepfer also doesn’t always have to leave Madison, Ind., to perform her work promoting international understanding. As a coordinator for the non-profit organization La Casa Amiga and event organizer for the Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day festival, Kloepfer finds herself doing the same thing right in her own backyard.
For the past decade, the Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day festival has given Madison residents a chance to sample a taste of world culture by traveling no further than downtown. Guests can enjoy the chance to learn more about a variety of Spanish speaking nations through a combination of music, art, information and food.
The 10th annual Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day festival will take place Sept. 18 at the Broadway Fountain in Madison. The event, presented by La Casa Amiga and the city of Madison, serves as a way to celebrate and recognize the wide range of Spanish speaking cultures The festival is free to the public and will run from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. At least 15 countries will be represented at booths showcasing the art and culture of their region allowing guests a glimpse at life across the world.
The event offers a wide range of entertainment certain to capture the imagination of the entire family. Indianapolis-based band Neblina Del Cielo returns for a third year to liven the evening with tropical music. The group offers a truly international sound with members hailing from Mexico, Columbia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. “They seem to get everyone out to dance,” notes Kloepfer. Throughout the evening children will enjoy puppets shows and pinatas. And naturally, the international cuisine also serves as a popular draw giving guests a chance to discover a new favorite dish. Over the years Knobel and his wife, Mary Clare, have found that working with the festival and La Casa Amiga to be a natural extension of their Catholic faith. When their church began offering a Spanish mass, the Knobels became involved and this led to further work with the Hispanic community. Over the years, Lou Knobel has served as event photographer and has designed the posters and T-shirts used to promote the festival.
The festival also serves as a good way to share information on La Casa Amiga with the public. The non-profit organization provides Spanish speaking residents of southern Indiana and northern Kentucky with a range of assistance and educational opportunities. A part of Ohio Valley Opportunities, the group offers English as a Second Language and computer classes as well as providing translation services and community support. Additionally, all children are invited to La Casa Amiga’s bi-lingual story hour every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at 970 Cross Ave.
Kloepfer said she hopes that the Hispanic Cultural Awareness Day festival will help make people more aware of the variety of countries where Spanish is spoken. She points out that while many people who hear Spanish assume that the speaker is Mexican, that is not necessarily the case. She goes on to explain that different Spanish speaking countries draw from different cultural sources noting that Argentina reflects a strong European influence while Mexico retained more of the traditions of its indigenous inhabitants.

• For more information or to become a volunteer, call Shirley Kloepfer at (812) 273-4350.

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