community events

Bloomington’s Hispanic community will celebrate Fiesta Del Otono on Saturday



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Bloomington resident Jose Viloria sits at a booth for his home country of Venezuela during Fiesta del Otoño last year at the Bloomington Community Farmer's Market. The event featured several booths, live music performances and Latin dances in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Ted Somerville Buy Photos

We are all immigrants in our own way, and we have that in common, said Rafi Khalid II, the director of a Safe and Civil City. That commonality, “Why We are All Immigrants”, is the theme for Fiesta del Otono this year.

The eleventh annual Fiesta del Otono will be Saturday at the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market at 401 N. Morton St.

The event will feature live music and entertainment, local artists and their crafts, food demonstrations and a variety of activities for 
families.

Exsenet Esler, Bloomington’s Latino Program Coordinator, said the event is an excellent way for the Hispanic and Latino communities to come out and talk about their histories and cultures.

“I think that Latinos and Hispanics want to share their culture with others, and Bloomington has a community that is really accepting and wants to know more,” Esler said.

The event begins at 10 a.m. and continues until 1 p.m. Community members from different Latin American and Caribbean countries will be in attendance, and it is open to the public.

The Fiesta del Otono, translating to “autumn festival”, takes place during National Hispanic Heritage month, which is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Former president Lyndon B. Johnson started Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and former president Ronald Reagan later expanded the event to an entire 30-day period.

It begins on Sept. 15 each year to celebrate the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, which all gained independence on that date. Mexico and Chile both celebrate their own independence days soon after Sept. 16 and 18 respectively.

BPD Capt. Steve Kellams said this is another chance for BPD to get in touch with different parts of the community and to be leaders for everyone.

BPD will have a table set up in order to provide information the department to any interested public at the event. Esler also said 16 different Bloomington organizations will have their own tables set up during the event.

Tables will also be set up at the fiesta with displays of Latino and Hispanic historical figures. Esler said this would help educate students and residents on the importance of Hispanic and Latino history.

“I think their enthusiasm really helps in fueling the event every year,” Esler said.

The event serves as a way for Hispanic members of the community to educate others about their culture and heritage and also for groups like BPD to reach out and connect with the minority group themselves.

IU’s Latino Enhancement Cooperative is working in conjunction with the City of Bloomington’s Latino Outreach and Programs to make the event happen this year.

The IU Cooperative and City of Bloomington Outreach are both dedicated to promoting events which highlight the diversity of Latino culture and heritage during Hispanic Heritage month and throughout the year.

Khalid said the program is one that is well placed in Bloomington due to the social enviroment.

“It coincides with the Bloomington commitment to diversity,” Khalid said.

Bloomington also has a relationship with two sister cities in Latin America. Those cities will both have booths at the event to promote involvement in their countries and provide information.

The fiesta has showcased not only the diversity and community of Bloomington in the past but also the global relationship and reach present in the city.

“It represents our commonality,” Khalid said.

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Mary Bolander, a volunteer with the Bloomington Sister Cities program helps Sasha Luhur, age 6, make a craft with yarn and popscicle sticks during the "Fiesta del Otoño" at Showers Plaza during the Farmer's Market last year. Adam Kiefer Buy Photos

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