Fiesta Hispana will celebrate the cultures of many different countries of Latin America as it works to bring the community together on Sunday, Sept. 25 at Centro Hispano of Dane County’s headquarters on Madison’s south side.

For many years in the past, Centro Hispano’s annual Fiesta was held at Warner Park on Madison’s north side. This is the fifth year that the event will be held on the south side in the big area behind Centro Hispano. “We really enjoy having Fiesta in the heart of the south side of Madison at Centro,” Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller tells Madison365. “It’s really nice and easily accessible for many of the families that come to Centro on a regular basis.”

Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller
Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller

Fiesta Hispana is an annual outdoor festival filled with music, traditional dancing, kids’ activities and delicious local Latino cuisine. This year, there will be live music and performances on the Centro stage by DJ Mexican Master, Centro’s Zumba Dancers, Mariachis Corcel de Madison, Los Chechos, Ballet Folklorico México, El Maderazo, and El Rey y Sus Diamantes.

There will be fun, family activities including face painting, t-shirt tie-dying, the Fiesta Hispana photo booth, Henna Tattoos, and Crazy Hair with Sole Unique Salon. Firetrucks and motorcycles will be on display. There will be food sampling with the UW-Madison Seed to Kitchen Collaborative and fun science with Dane County Land and Resources Department.

“This year, we’re trying to do a lot more kids’ activities at Centro,” Menendez Coller says. “A lot of our sponsors in the past have had a table but this year we’ve asked them to give back by planning different surprising activities for the kids that will include some fantastic giveaways. There will be some extra surprises for the younger kids this year.

“This year, it’s going to be even more family friendly than it usually is,” she continues. “The number of volunteers has increased and there will be people from all over the community who will help out. It’s going to be even more diverse, too.”

Fiesta Hispana 2016 will feature delicious food and drinks from local restaurants like El Chisme, Café Costa Rica, La Michoacana, and El Sabor de Puebla.
Fiesta Hispana is always an interesting event that proudly showcases Latino culture. There will be many Centro families at the event, but Menendez Coller stresses that the whole community is invited to attend.

“I feel like a lot of people who haven’t come to a Fiesta in a while have told me that they will show up this year,” Menendez Coller says. “I feel really proud that people think of Centro as their space and that they can come back and take ownership of it and celebrate with everybody.”

Centro Hispano of Dane County has evolved quite a bit in its 33 years in Madison, but its mission of empowering Latinos through quality social, educational and cultural programs has remained the same. On top of all of the food and fun, Fiesta Hispana is a chance to learn about what Centro is up to right now.

“We will have a table for Centro and a lot of our youth will doing activities and trying to engage the community,” Menendez Coller says. “It’s an important year with elections. They are excited for the event, too.”

Centro Hispano seeks to empower people and to enable them to participate fully in the community at large. Centro has administered numerous programs and cultural events over the past three decades, always with the goals of fostering hope, responsibility, and encouragement to the Latino community.
“We will be planning an event around voter registration in late October, but the details around it are still a little bit of a surprise,” Menendez-Coller says. “Our regular programming is going great and our career tracks are going well. We want to make sure that people are applying for the bank teller track and the nursing position track and getting involved in our youth programs. Hopefully, people will learn more about all of these great things going on at Centro when they come to Fiesta on Sunday.”

Centro Hispano’s annual banquet is also right around the corner.

“Our annual gala is Nov. 12 and our ticket sales go live on Oct. 1,” Menendez Coller says. “The gala is a one-of-a-kind event and last year we sold out pretty quick.”

In the meantime, Menendez Coller is looking forward to Fiesta Hispana and hoping for no rain, which has been popping up in the weekend forecast.

“I really, really, really like being with our families at Fiesta, ” she says. “It’s a full day of being with families and really just enjoying our Latino community here in Madison and watching people come out and having a presence. I miss that a lot sometimes so it’s a special day in that regard.

“And the performers are so beautiful … everybody is so talented,” she adds. “It’s really fun. It’s a proud day for me.”