Article & Photos by Joe Conteras…see photo gallery below
Denver has several Latino cultural festivals starting with Cinco de Mayo, the Taste of Puerto Rico, the Peruvian Festival, Venezuelan Festival, Chilean Festival, the Central American Festival brings together the countries of Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua and then there is the Fiesta Patrias celebration of Mexican Independence day in September. All these festival take place over several days throughout the summer bringing together thousands of people for food, fun, music and cultural awareness.
In Miami it is all crammed into one 8 hour day in the Cuban neighborhood know as Little Havana. More than a million people gather along the 20 block stretch of Calle Ocho, (Eighth Street) for a wild and crazy day celebrating Latin cultural from all over Latin America.
Latin Life Denver was there as Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Dominicans,, Chicanos and any other Latino types you can think of were there for this one day happening.
Among the celebrities performing were Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Leslie Grace, Fito Blanco, Farruko, Sean Paul, Chino y Nacho, DLG, Illegales, Gocho, Elvis Crespo, Tony Diez, Alexis y Fido and several musical groups from Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Mexico and many others.
Telemundo and Univision both were there producing network specials to be broadcast soon. Several telenovela stars made appearances throughout the day.
Food of every Latin cuisine imaginable from Puerto Rican pinchos to Venezuelan arepas to Spanish pallea was available as well as a variethy beverages both alcoholic and non.
Little Havana enclave started in the 1960s when Cuban refugees began settling around Miami’s “Calle Ocho” and another major influx of Cubans occurred during the Mariel boatlift of 1980 that ended up increasing the Cuban population in this area.
In 1978 Cubans invited the surrounding neighborhoods to a block party so that they could get to know more about Cuban culture and Calle Ocho Festival was born.
The stores along Calle Ocho sell typical Cuban and more recently South and Central American products (especially Nicaraguan) as new immigrants made their way into the neighborhood.