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Connect with Latino culture at this returning festival
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Linda Penaloza performs during Latino Fest at the Midland Greenway Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Hispanic Alliance Georgia is highlighting culture, art and music at its fourth annual Latino Fest.

Slated for 2-9 p.m. Sept. 17, the festival is free and open to the public to see “a beautiful display of our culture,” according to the organization’s founder and executive director Vanesa Sarazua. 

“Latino Fest is a way to integrate our community into one and educate the community about the many cultures that contribute to our local community,” Sarazua said . “It's a good opportunity to be able to learn a little bit more about other cultures that live within our own community.”

The festivities kick off at 2 p.m. on the Midland Greenway, featuring local bands and native dance performers in addition to a number of local Latino artisans. 

A range of ethnic cuisines, including tacos, tamales and empanadas, will be available from Latin American vendors Carnicería Tapatia, Señor Fiesta, Sombreros Mexican Cantina, El Sabor del Oriente, Chuy's Tacos, Scoops and Pico's Hot Dogs.

What makes this year’s Latino Fest unique, according to Sarazua, is where its proceeds are going: A scholarship fund created for students tied to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, who have limited access to federal and state assistance and also face paying out-of-state tuition, according to Sarazua. 

The scholarship fund is housed by the North Georgia Community Foundation.

“The dream … was to help our local youth who have no other support get to college,” Sarazua said.

Sarazua said a big part of the festival, and Hispanic Alliance at large, is connecting the Latino community to local resources. 

Over 50 businesses and organizations are expected to be present to showcase their resources and services, as well as some that are seeking employees.

Gainesville City Schools will be on site with a reading bus to give away books, while the Gainesville Fire Department will be set up to share information about fire safety.

For more information on Latino Fest, visit hispanicalliancega.org.