Festival Latino began as a five-hour pilot project in 1996. Due to an overwhelming response from our community, the Festival expanded to a two-day event in 1997. The common elements each year have been lively music, dancing in the streets, cultural and arts workshops for children and adults, Latin American cuisine, and community information tents. Over the years, Festival Latino has experienced a substantial growth in the number of performing artists, workshops, vendors, participating community groups, and audience.
In 2009, City budget cuts threatened to end the Festival, but Mayor Michael Coleman approached CAPA to review the Festival model. CAPA, which has a commitment to Latino programming through its Caliente Series and Caliente Advisory Committee, began to talk to leaders in the Latino and majority communities to assess both interest and feasibility. Community interest in the Festival remained significant and previous sponsors remained committed to providing financial support, leading CAPA to agree to produce the Festival on the City’s behalf.
Under CAPA’s management, Festival Latino was changed to a free event on Saturday and Sunday from 11am-8pm, making it much more family friendly. The 2009 Festival was heralded as a great success by members of the community as well as participants and sponsors, drawing 20,000 over the two-day event.
The 2010 Festival resulted in attendance of 35,000, a 75% increase over the previous year. The success of the Festival was due to increased community support, media partnerships, and community involvement. Outreach efforts, collaborative partnerships, and increased social media presence also played an important part in the success and growth of the Festival. In 2011, attendance continued to grow with more than 65,000 in attendance and new initiatives such as the expanded children’s area. In 2012, the Festival was attended by more than 75,000. Also that year, Festival Latino launched a new web site (with new logo) to better communicate with the community.
Looking toward 2013, CAPA will continue to grow and expand the free, family-focused event, bringing even more international music acts for the community to enjoy!
As part of CAPA’s ongoing commitment to the Festival, we will continue to rely on the guidance of the Festival Steering Committee established to help transition the event to CAPA’s management. The committee is currently comprised of 20 community leaders and sponsor representatives who advise CAPA on all aspects of the Festival.