HARRISONBURG — More than 3,000 people spent their Sunday morning and afternoon at the ninth annual Hispanic Festival celebrating Hispanic heritage, culture and diversity in the Shenandoah Valley.
The event was sponsored by the nonprofit organization COSPU, or Comite Salvadoreno Paisanos Unidos.
With soccer tournaments, food trucks and live performances, the festival provided something for everyone to enjoy.
“We welcome pretty much everyone and anyone,” said Natalia Álvarez, event coordinator for the Hispanic Festival.
Álvarez has been volunteering at the festival for the last four years, but didn’t become the event coordinator until this year.
Álvarez said when the festival was getting started nine years ago, it used to be called the Salvadoran Festival.
“We realized we are not the only Hispanics in this area so we changed the name in order to welcome more people from other countries,” Álvarez said.
Setting up for the festival began around 7 a.m. Sunday as 15 vendors took their spot at the Smithland Fields Soccer Complex in Harrisonburg. Álvarez said the festival had four new vendors.
Food vendors featured traditional Hispanic food from different Latin America countries while merchandise vendors carried on with the same theme of selling clothing, jewelry and accessories that paid tribute to Hispanic heritage.
Due to the festival being a once-a-year type of event, Álvarez wanted to make sure the memories made at the festival were worthwhile.
“I want people to remember the culture for younger generations to come,” Álvarez said.
One of the events that takes place every year is the crowing of Queen of the Festival Hispanic.
Representing Mexico, Gaby Hernández Mesa, 8, of Harrisonburg, was one of two contestants competing for the crown. Gaby, sporting a colorful orange and pink floral dress, paired her outfit with a smile that was hard to dismiss.
Gaby said she was excited to be competing for Queen of the Festival.