Every year St. Jude Catholic Church sponsors their Hispanic Fall Festival. This year was the 13th annual festival. I have been to three so far, and it gets bigger and better each year. After seeing this year’s festival, I believe I’ll make it point to participate every year.
This festival is a real opportunity to get the real “flavor” of Hispanic/Latino culture.
There are few places in the U.S.A. where so many different Hispanic/Latino cultures meet in one place at one time.
Throughout the church grounds, you experience different cultures and languages. Brazil is represented too.
There are food booths, music at center stage, and spontaneous dance break outs when you feel the urge. It’s not hard to do when the music starts and you hear the beat.
It’s a good place to practice your Spanish too, whatever level you have– that’s the “icing on the cake.”
Of course, there are games and activities for the kids. “La familia” is central to Latin culture.
The food booths alone are well worth the visit. I always feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store every time I attend.
Which booth should I check out first? Which one should I choose? I make it easy and visit every one.
Obviously, there’s only so much I can eat at one time, so I’m a bit limited. I do try my best. I sampled several of the booths.
Can you say stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey?
The Mexican booth is usually the biggest, with taco fixings laid out over a large area for your viewing pleasure. An assortment of meats, Pico de Gallo, chilies, etc.
If you like fried food, the Cuban and Puerto Rican booths offered a nice selection. For instance, the papas rellenas were out standing. I tried several of the rice dishes as well.
Also, I never get tired of trying different recipes for sanchocho. Certainly, I still find my favorite at Sofrito Mama’s (Puerto Rican) in Sarasota.
On my way home I hedged my bets by getting some take out (para llevar). A week later I’m still eating leftovers.
By the way, Cuban empanadas aren’t a bad way to start your day!
There’s plenty of great live music. One of my favorites was a Cuban guitarist who played a couple of lively tunes that led to a spontaneous dance break out.
The spontaneous dance break outs continued with several Latinas dancing the popular Zumba.
And then there’s the Spanish language “buffet.” You say all Spanish sounds the same? I beg to differ.
The different dialects make for a rich language learning experience.
It’s a global Spanish language lab at your fingertips. The best part is that folks let you speak “gringo” Spanish.
You can get by with “Spanglish” because many do. It helps people that have not mastered Spanish yet to fit in better.
Besides, it doesn’t bother most folks because they know you’re trying. As a matter fact, you may receive an impromptu lesson on the spot. Free of charge-now that’s a perk.
Yeah. Okay. There was this one instance. I won’t mention the particular booth but as I started speak my best Castilian Spanish, the guy looked at me and said what? He did it a couple of times, but that was the exception.
One person asked me my country of origin. That was a complement, since may Dutch/German ancestry is a give away.
I guess my accent elicited some question. That made my day. On the other hand, maybe that person was just being kind.
Last but not least there are activities and games for the kids. You name it. Clowns, balloons, slides, and inflated fun houses to jump around.
Children are central to Hispanic culture and you make enough room for them to roam around and have some fun.
I apologize for the lack of pictures and video. My camera decided it needed a new chip or something. Mechanical and technical I am not. I promise next year to get some better pictures for you.
In the meantime, here is a website for St. Jude’s Catholic Church where you can check out pictures of last year’s festival. This year’s pictures should be up on their site in a few weeks.