KANSAS CITY, Mo — Just in time for the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, the annual Fiesta Hispana kicked off at the Barney Allis Plaza in Downtown Kansas City.
Over 50 vendors and performers will be keeping the party going all weekend.
Event organizers have been planning since last December, making sure visitors will have a wide array of food, music, shopping and entertainment to enjoy.
“I think it’s also giving all of the Latinos in Kansas City at least a day or a weekend to feel like home," said Gladys Jaggers, a board member with Fiesta Hispana. "You can proudly announce where you are from, and you feel like you have a little piece of home in Kansas City."
It has been over 40 years since Fiesta Hispana began at a smaller scale on Southwest Boulevard.
Decades later, it now attracts more than 40,000 people, and for David Tinoco, it is the unfamiliar faces that make it beautiful.
”That’s the goal, the education is not so much for keeping ours, but also embracing other cultures and allowing them to see the colorfulness, the pageantries, the food, the decor and everything and the entertainment,” Tinoco said
Just hours ahead of the event, vendors were busy putting their final touches.
One of them was Selena Contreras, who for 18 years have been attending this event to help her father run their family business.
“I mean, I can remember the first times we were coming out here — just playing around like kids. And you know, now getting to work alongside my dad, helping support the business is really great,” Contreras said.
Along with the chance to make memories with dad, she says being able to share her culture through food has been a blessing.
“I love to watch people eat our food for the first time and, you know, they come over and over again,” Contreras said.
And it is moments like this that organizers want to create over and over.
“Something beautiful that we saw last year was people teaching others," Jaggers said. "Like, ‘This is how you say beer: cervezas. Say this.’ So it was such a beautiful experience to see them just mingling altogether,” said Jaggers.
Below are the Fiesta Hispana hours:
- 5pm to 11pm on Friday
- Noon to 11pm on Saturday
- Noon to 10pm on Sunday