Man holds his hat while listening to musical acts. Carlos Nieves adjusts his hat between musical acts during the 47th annual Puerto Rican Festival in Rochester, Friday, August 5.

Celebrating heritage all year long

The Puerto Rican Festival concluded its 47th anniversary with an exciting and successful weekend filled with national headliners and local performances, children’s activities, food and, best of all, a family-oriented atmosphere. The Puerto Rican Festival continued its tradition of being a large family reunion and drawing people from all over the country that joined together in celebrating our culture. The festival continued providing that nostalgic feeling of the fiestas patronales we are fond of while growing up in Puerto Rico. It is our intent to ensure our children and community grow up knowing about our Puerto Rican traditions regardless of their upbringing in the states.

We now shift into the month of September and Hispanic Heritage Month. This will showcase a plethora of events focusing on celebrating our Hispanic culture. This is a time where many organizations, including the City of Rochester, the Puerto Rican Festival Inc. and the Memorial Art Gallery, just to name a few, will celebrate our traditions and capture the essence of our Hispanic culture. In addition, local colleges and universities will host various Hispanic Heritage Month events often open to the public. These events offer an opportunity to experience the ties, similarities and pride our different cultures share. Hispanic Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to also invite non-Hispanics to these events and expose them to our culture.

As president of the Puerto Rican Festival, one of the changes I’m most proud of is the implementation of year-round events. For years, the Puerto Rican Festival was solely known as a three-day event organization. The additional events such as the Comedy Show, Latino Film Festival, Parrandas and others have helped the Puerto Rican Festival stay engaged within our community on a year-round basis. We strongly felt there was a void throughout the year that we could help fill. We had a strong interest in celebrating our culture year round, not just during the Puerto Rican Festival weekend or Hispanic Heritage Month. With that perspective in mind, I encourage you to take advantage of these events and the various celebrations during Hispanic Heritage Month. Even more important, I encourage you to celebrate your culture and support Hispanic events year round. If there is something you feel is lacking, please contact any of the organizations in the area and share your thoughts.

Ortiz is president of the Puerto Rican Festival and manufacturing supervisor at The Gleason Works in Rochester.

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