The 29th annual Festival Latino is a feast for the senses. There are the bright colors and festive choreography of Folklórico dancers. There is dancing along to Cumbia rhythms.
And then, there is the array of handmade, traditional South American and Mexican foods, said Maria Rosa Eads, executive director of the Hispanic Apostolate.
“You come and you’re not going to go hungry here,” she said.
Eads is the executive director of the apostolate, a service of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, which the festival supports. The event starts at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Food-wise, locals and visitors can expect exotic fare like the Peruvian noodle dish tallarines saltados, Salvadoran pupusas and the Colombian national dish, Bandeja paisa. The festival will also have a variety of savory Mexican tamales and tacos as well as traditional Latin dishes and desserts will be served.
Musical acts will perform throughout the day, showcasing the diverse styles of Latin American music from danceable Cumbias to Norteño ballads and Spanish-language rock.
Well known throughout the Spanish-speaking world for his 1960s hit “Patacón Pisao,” Dominican singer Johnny Ventura will perform Merengue and salsa styles.
Created in 1983 to serve the growing Hispanic community of the Capital Region, the apostolate took over the former St. Pius X school in North Baton Rouge.
Through the apostolate, Hispanics and new immigrants can find a variety of services, from translators and English classes to catechism classes and prayer groups.
“Anything we can do to help the Hispanic people adjust to the American way of life,” Eads said.
A youth group with the organization started the festival nearly three decades ago to raise money for a trip, and it became a tradition.
“Then, they realized people were interested in the food and the culture, and it’s just gotten bigger every year,” Eads said. “We hope we can appeal to the whole Baton Rouge community.”