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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Victoria Ramirez, 2, of Amaneceres de Mexico dances Saturday at Fiesta Fort Wayne at Headwaters Park.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette José "Chino" Niño, left, and Maximiliano Hernandez, 9, from Alberto Lozada's The Deer Boxing Club, work on their boxing at Fiesta! at Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne, IN on Saturday August 18, 2018.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Evie Mabee, 6, slides down the slide on the bouncy house at Fiesta! at Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne, IN on Saturday August 18, 2018.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Nataly Mendez, 3, holds up money so she can purchase an item from Claudia A. Chávez (NOT PICTURED) at Fiesta! at Headwaters Park in downtown Fort Wayne, IN on Saturday August 18, 2018.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Emily Zaldivar, 11, of Amaneceres de Mexico dances Saturday at Headwaters Park during Fiesta!, billed as the largest Latino event in northeast Indiana. See story on Page 3C.

Sunday, August 19, 2018 1:00 am

Hispanic culture celebrated

3,000 expected to enjoy music, food and a piñata

CHARLOTTE STEFANSKI | The Journal Gazette

Hispanic culture was on full display at Headwaters Park on Saturday for Fiesta Fort Wayne.

The festival, while under a different name, has been a part of the city for almost 40 years, said director Fernando Zapari.

The event was originally started by the group United Mexican Americans (now the United Hispanic Americans). While Zapari has directed the event in the past, it has been five years since his last festival.

“The purpose of this festival is to help celebrate tradition and culture of everyone out there, and to tell people that we are good people, and that we've been part of the staple of America for forever,” Zapari said.

The festival featured food and craft vendors, live music, a piñata, a boxing demonstration and activities for children.

Attendance for the event was expected to be about 3,000, Zapari said, adding that it was the largest Latino event in northeast Indiana. Some of the event's sponsors included Parkview Health and El Mexicano News.

About 1:30 p.m. the all-female mariachi group Mariachi Sirenas took to the stage. Instead of the traditional traje de charro suits, the group wore a dress version and brought violins and guitars. “This is something you don't see very often,” Zapari said.

Angel Cazares, 39, of Fort Wayne had just walked in to Headwaters Park with her family to celebrate the event.

While she's lived in the city all of her life, her parents are from Mexico, and she's no stranger to Hispanic festivals in Fort Wayne.

She was excited for the food and to see different cultures proudly on display. “It's important to bring cultures together,” Cazares said. “I really wanted to bring my kids and grandkids out here.”

Zapari said his biggest hope is for the community to stay safe and enjoy the live entertainment during the festival. “Our plan is to continue doing it and grow it further,” Zapari said.

cstefanski@jg.net