Community unity mission of Festival Hispano extravaganza

GEORGETOWN — Georgetown’s diversity united and took to the streets Sunday in a festive extravaganza celebrating Hispanic heritage and culture.

Festival Hispano 2017, a seven-hour family-friendly multi-block party along North Race Street, featured music and dances performed by local and International groups and artists, traditional arts and crafts and food with obvious emphasis on Latino cuisine.

“It’s about community,” said Rosalia Velasquez, executive director of La Esperanza, the presenting organization. “It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month so it’s a great time to do this. It’s about celebrating who we are and celebrating our people. That’s what it’s about. It’s really a family day and a community day. We’re very happy to be a part of this.”

“We want to unite the community. We want to make the community stronger and work together. No matter which race you are we want to make sure we are living together as neighbors,” said Kevin Andrade of The Voice Radio Network and a prime organizer of the event.

With no admission gauge — the event is free — it’s a safe bet several that thousand people attended the festival.

Georgetown Mayor Bill West, who attended the festival with wife Faye, spoke of Georgetown’s diversity.

“We’re a very diverse community. If we all continue to work together we can be a better place,” said Mayor West. “So today is a chance to show our gratitude by letting this festival take place. And I want to thank Kevin (Andrade) for putting it together and everybody that has been involved.”

“Kevin really is the reason we have this festival” said Ms. Velasquez. “He puts in countless hours of work to make this happen.”

“I think what the Hispanic community is about is important. We want everybody to learn about that,” said Mr. Andrade.

More than 100 vendors lined the streets. Business at local Latino eateries and food stores was booming with Hispanic favorites.

The vendor list included health-care, a variety of services, including social services, area employers with job opportunities and of course food.

Representatives of Dover-based KCI Technologies — Debbie Pfiel and Lauren Good — offered plastic hardhats to children and information on Georgetown’s downtown development district designation.

The district includes parts of North Race Street and other portions of the town with a heavy Hispanic presence.

“The town of Georgetown received a downtown development district designation from the governor (Jack Markell),” said Ms. Pfiel. “What that does is they have a specific district that allows incentives, re-development, money and reduction of fees so they can come and revitalize the downtown development district for Georgetown. We’re educating everybody on money that is available and fees and expediting the process to be able to make Georgetown a better community.”

Festival Hispano dates back more than two decades. It had been held in Millsboro until 2016 when festival organizers moved it several miles north to Georgetown.

“Georgetown is a wonderful place,” said Georgetown Town Manager Eugene Dvornick. “We are a well-rounded community.”

Mr. Andrade, who owns about a half dozen radio stations, saluted the many sponsors, including prime sponsors Toyota and Auto Equity Loans.

“And the city, the police department and everybody here is just so welcoming,” said Mr. Andrade.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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