Latino Fest will be held in Madras on Saturday. The event, hosted by the Latino Community Association, features live music, food and cultural booths representing countries across Latin America. Hilda León is a leadership coordinator with the Latino Community Association and an emcee of the event. She joins us with details and explains why the event is special to her.
Note: The following transcript was created by a computer and edited by a volunteer.
Dave Miller: This is Think Out Loud on OPB. I’m Dave Miller. We turn now to Madras. On Saturday, the city will host the Latino Fest. It is a one-day event put on by the Latino Community Association. It features live music, food, and cultural booths representing countries from Central and South America. Hilda León is the leadership coordinator with the Latino Community Association and one of the emcees for this event. She joins us now with more details. Hilda León, welcome.
Hilda León: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Miller: I’m thrilled to have you on. Can you give us a sense for what happens at Latino Fest?
León: It’s a family event. It’s a yearly family event. However, last two years we had to cancel due to COVID, but we are coming, we’re ready for this year. Latino Fest is a beautiful event to bring communities together. We’re going to have different culture booths and it’s a family event. We’re going to have activities for kids, live music, and it’s going to be just a lot of fun for the whole family.
Miller: I heard your voice get very excited just now, when you said live music. It seems like that’s one of the things that you personally are particularly excited about.
León: I am, I am. We’re going to have this beautiful Conjunto Bahía. They’re coming all the way from Seattle, Washington to Madras, and they’re from Colombia. I love the different cultures and different sounds of music of our culture.
Miller: The website says there are going to be cultural booths where people can visit with representatives from different cultures from across Latin America – not just Mexico or Guatemala, but Chile, and Peru, and Nicaragua, others. Are there communities in Central Oregon from all of these countries?
León: Definitely. We make sure that the people that is representing that booth, they’re coming – they are from those countries. So, we have people from Peru, from Guatemala, from Colombia. So yes, we are – we make sure that they – they’re here, they’re living here in Central Oregon.
Miller: Why is it important to you to do this in Madras?
León: In Madras, there is more Latino population. And so we want to bring more attention to Madras. That’s why we did it in Madras.
Miller: Madras, it is a very diverse community. The high school I looked at this morning is about 38% Latino, about 32% Native American, about 25% White. How would you describe overall the relationships between these different groups?
León: The relation is – we are growing, we are growing as a Latino community. We are here to say we are proud of our culture. We have to make sure that we – we take that in advantage of our growing community here in Madras.
Miller: I guess I’m still wondering about how the relationships are now, and if and where there are tensions?
León: I don’t believe there’s tensions. We are a minority, but I don’t believe there is tensions. We are sharing this beautiful Central Oregon and I don’t believe there’s tensions.
Miller: And it seems like there’s hope that a big civic party with dancing and music and food can bring people together.
León: Of course. Yes, that is the purpose of Latino Fest. We are including all cultures. This is going to be bilingual, so it’s including – it’s not just for Latinos, it’s for everybody to come and join.
Miller: What does it mean to you that, after two years where this didn’t happen because of COVID, you can get together again in person?
León: Oh, this is wonderful, because we can see face-to-face now. We can see our smiles, we can have eye contact, dance together, and that is just wonderful. It is a great feeling.
Miller: Speaking of COVID, my understanding is there is going to be a vaccination booth there this year.
León: That is correct. We’re going to have OHA [Oregon Health Authority] helping us with the vaccination clinic.
Miller: I’m talking right now with Hilda León, who is leadership coordinator with the Latino Community Association and one of the emcees for this Saturday’s Latino Fest, which is going to be taking place all day on Saturday. So, that day-job – as the leadership coordinator for the Latino Community Association – what does that entail? What kind of work does the Association do?
León: Well, for – we have many resources for our Latino community here in Central Oregon. We have – leader – we have different – we have different programs, like English classes, citizenship classes, we also do translations. We partner with Mexican Consulate for them to come every year to assist our community with legal documents like passports.
Miller: And what does it mean to be the leadership coordinator for the Association?
León: This is a brand new position. It started in April of this year. We’re really excited. We saw the need of leadership coordinator here in Central Oregon because we want to help our community members to be more involved, and political – to take risks. We’re also going to have different trainings for them, to empower them.
Miller: What are you looking most forward to for Saturday’s festival?
León: Oh my goodness, the music. It doesn’t matter our nationality. Music, it looks like it brings people together. It doesn’t matter the language, it doesn’t matter who we are, we just come together to enjoy the music.
Miller: Hilda León, thanks very much for joining us.
León: Thank you. Dave.
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