Fiesta 2019: Celebrating Alabama Together
When most people are asked to use one word to describe the Latino culture, they typically say “colorful.” That is a common thread that weaves itself through the many Spanish speaking countries of the world. However, what many people perceive as one culture is in fact many. Latino people are proud of their countries, which are unique and rich in culture, and they are eager to share their customs and traditions with others.
In late 2001, the members of the Hispanic Business Council (HBC) of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce put in motion a plan to develop a yearly Hispanic festival in downtown Birmingham. Aware of their own diverse makeup within the council and with the knowledge that the Hispanic population was growing tremendously in Alabama, they felt it would be an ideal way to showcase the best their countries have to offer. The City of Birmingham, with its own diverse history, seemed like the ideal place to host such an event. The rest, as they say, is history!
In 2002, Fiesta, Inc., was created as a not-for-profit organization whose board of directors would host the annual event with the help of interested community volunteers. Fiesta, Inc., is considered a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. The Fiesta Board is currently made up of Hispanic and non-Hispanic professionals from across the Birmingham metro area, including Teresa Zúñiga Odom, Vanessa Vargas, Luis Fernandez, Orlando Rosa, Ashlee Jones, Cristina Almanza, Matt Ennis, Chris Miller, Floresha Boyd and Dr. Carlos Alemán.
The astounding success of Fiesta continues to grow and evolve thanks to the continued support of the Birmingham community as it embraces what has become a beloved and anticipated annual event. Fiesta promises an opportunity to celebrate all cultures, and patrons will leave Fiesta with a rich appreciation of our Latino neighbors.
The mission of Fiesta is “to organize and manage a yearly festival that celebrates and educates the public on the diverse cultures within the Hispanic community in Alabama.” Year after year, this mission continues to be fulfilled!
Fiesta seeks “to educate the mainstream public about the many different Hispanic countries and cultures through the best of art, music, dance and food.” Simply stated, Hispanic music is more than Ricky Martin “Living La Vida Loca.” The food is more than tacos with salsa. The dance is more than a Mexican Hat Dance. And history is surprising to many.
Highspanics aren’t really newcomers to this country. In fact, Hispanics arrived in this country more than 500 years ago on the shores of America. It is up to the Hispanics in Alabama to passionately tell our stories and share our rich cultures and traditions with Alabamians of all ages. And while sharing our stories, it allows us to learn even more about ourselves and how we can best weave ourselves into the communities where we live. What better way to do this than through an event like Fiesta!
Part of Fiesta’s goal as a festival and as an organization has always been to provide Hispanic students with scholarships to help them further their education in Alabama. In the last 16 years, Fiesta has awarded more than $70,000 in scholarships to deserving Hispanic students through the Arte Latino Scholarship and the Logros Latino Scholarships.