Fayetteville offers its inaugural Hispanic Heritage Festival on Sept. 26-28 with events at the Washington County Fairgrounds and the Global Campus of the University of Arkansas.
Considered a northwest Arkansas festival, it will celebrate a Hispanic nation each year. This year the featured country is Panama. The next three years the countries to be celebrated are Mexico, Columbia and Brazil, in that order.
The festival begins with an invitation-only dinner from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26 for Panamanian PresidentRicardoMartinelli and the 119 Panamanian students attending the University of Arkansas, plus distinguished guests. Martinelli will give brief remarks and the Fayetteville High School Orchestra will play. An FHS student wrote and scored the arrangements for the orchestra’s string instruments to play the Panamanian national anthem.
At 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 27 at the University of Arkansas Global Campus, Martinelli will deliver the inaugural address for the festival on the topic of economic development in the Americas and the impact of the Panama Canal. He will cut the ribbon opening the festival at 4 p.m. that same day.
The festival will be a celebration of Hispanic culture, food, music, and achievement plus a health fair. The main hours for the event at the fairgrounds are from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28. More than 60 exhibitors and vendors will participate. A children’s area will include a petting zoo, pony rides and a zip line. There will be arts and crafts, a tamale cooking contest, five bands with one group coming from Spain, salsa dance lessons, and a dance contest.
In addition to President Martinelli, Ambassador Eudoro Jaen, Panama ambassador to Italy, Malta, Turkey and the United Nations Organizations, will attend and speak several times throughout northwest Arkansas. The Ambassador currently serves as advisor and instructor in the areas of international banking, finance, risk analysis, and strategic planning.
Both President Martinelli and Ambassador Jaen are graduates of the University of Arkansas.
The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring and hosting the festival in conjunction with Univision Television. The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for children. For more information, call 479-521-1710.