Hispanic heritage events planned

An array of activities will be offered locally during Hispanic Heritage Month.

A recognition of Latino achievements and contributions to the United States first began in 1968 as a weeklong honor but was expanded to a month in 1988 and runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, according to www.census.gov. The United States is ranked second in the world for the size of its Hispanic population, with 52 million living on the mainland and an additional 3.7 million in Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory, the website states.

In Rochester, Hispanic Heritage activities sponsored by the city of Rochester will focus on the diversity of the Latino population through a youth talent show, an award presentation to a community pioneer, a dance showcase, a college fair, and opening and closing galas. The closing gala also will honor Latinos of Positive Influence, an award created two years ago. Those awardees have yet to be named, according to the Hispanic Heritage planning committee.

Other local events include the second-annual Latino film festival to be held at St. John Fisher College, a talent show and fiesta at Holy Apostles Church, and the annual Hispanic/Latino Heritage Family Day at the Memorial Art Gallery on Oct. 7.

The museum’s event will highlight two new groups — from Colombia and Chile — which will perform traditional dances during the annual event, said Debora McDell-Hernández, coordinator of community programs and outreach. This year’s theme is "Celebrating our Roots" and the daylong event also will feature a music performance from Los Arpegios Trio, which plays folkloric music from Puerto Rico, she added.

The Colombian continent also will highlight the folkloric influences of the South American nation with performances from adults and children, explained Sandra Easterly, one of the dancers.

The children’s dance is called "El Sanjuanero Huilense," she said, which is also the title of a Bambuco song that is popular in the country’s Andean region. The adults will dance a cumbia called "La Pollera Colorado," she added.

"These are two beautiful genres of our folklore," she wrote in an e-mail. "We want to be part of this event, to show and share with the people a little bit of the culture and folklore of our beautiful and diverse Colombia."

Cuba, however, will take center stage during the country spotlight that has become part of Family Day in the last couple of years, noted McDell-Hernández. A Cuban drumming troupe called Banyoko Güi-milere (which means "seated king") will be part of that presentation, she added.

Visitors to the event also can partake in a passport activity by touring the tables representing all 23 Latin American nations, explained McDell-Hernández. Those participants will receive stamps in a booklet for finding answers to various questions on the tables, and anyone who finds all of the answers will receive a prize, she noted.

The activity was well-received during Asian/Pacific American Heritage Family Day at the museum, McDell-Hernández added.

"It’s a way to better ensure visitors are connecting with the people hosting the tables," she remarked.

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