Sonoma County kicks off first weekend of Hispanic Heritage Month with free events
Hispanic Heritage month, which officially starts Friday, is a monthlong celebration of Hispanic and Latino history and culture in the United States. The first day of the month celebrates the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua from Spain.
The second night is celebrated with “El Grito“ a Mexican tradition marked at midnight to signify Mexico’s independence from Spain.
The rest of the month continues to honor the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
While the observation, which dates back to 1968 in the United States, is rooted in global origins, Sonoma County residents have many options to celebrate in public.
Here is a rundown of local events during the first weekend.
El Grito (Friday)
“Viva Mexico,” roar the people of Mexico as the clock strikes midnight on Sept. 16, the nation’s Independence Day.
For those who celebrate here, “El Grito” is making its debut Friday at Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square, where organizer Angie Sanchez, founder of VIDA Cultural Arts, has planned a free event from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with “El Grito” happening around 8 p.m.
“I love seeing more of these cultural events in downtown Santa Rosa, and being able to bring all the gente (people) and really just building that bridge between the community,” Sanchez said.
There will be live performances from Banda La Solteca, DJ R3FUG33, Ballet Folklorico Sarita and Los Diablos Oaxaqueños del Valle.
A total of 65 vendors will offer a mix of food and other items for sale.
Festival de América Latina (Friday and Saturday)
This new two-day festival at Mitote Food Park in Roseland is another free celebration from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
It will feature local bands and a mix of up to 50 vendors along with the food park’s prized vendors.
There will be a Grito of Independencia, but el Gritador (the yeller) is still to be announced.
The festival is co-organized by Mitote Park, California Business Magazine, nonprofit Red Latinx the Hub, the radio stations KRRS and KZNB, and Rafael Rivera, economic development specialist with the city of Santa Rosa.
It will feature performances from Ballet Folklorico Paquiyollotzin and Ireri Ballet Folklorico de Petaluma, and a DJ.
On Sunday, there will be a selection of the Queen of Fiestas Patrias, with participants ranging in age from 15 to 29.
“This is the first time doing it. And hopefully next year, we can do something bigger and better,” said Miriam Gomez, operations manager of KRRS and KZNB.
Fiestas Patrias (Saturday)
And the celebrations continue in Windsor, which is hosting its second annual Fiestas Patrias, a free, family friendly outdoor market on the Town Green from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The event will begin with “El Grito,” led by officials from the San Francisco office of the Consulate General of Mexico.
La Fiesta, organized by SOMOS Windsor and sponsored by the town, is bringing together Mexican food, an arts and crafts market, a Ballet Folklorico performance, a community photo booth, free face painting for children, and a concert by cumbia performer, Rocio La Dama de la Cumbia.
The event will also serve as a space to recognize Latino leaders making a difference in the community.
“We had an amazing celebration of unity on the Town Green last September, and we’re really looking forward to the annual event becoming a staple tradition in the Windsor community,” said Angelica Núñez, founder of the Windsor nonprofit Latino cultural heritage group SOMOS Windsor in the event’s news release.
Hispanic Heritage Festival (Sunday)
End your celebratory weekend in Sonoma at the historic plaza, with a leisurely stroll through the Hispanic Heritage Festival.
There will be Mexican cuisine and entertainment from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
This festival organizer, also Angie Sanchez, said guests can expect to see some of the same vendors from the El Grito event but with some new additions, with total of around 65 vendors.
The festival will have activities for families, including a painting station hosted by the company “It’s a Paint Party.” For those searching for a cold beverage, micheladas and Lagunitas Brewing Company will have its beer on hand for purchase at the pop up Cantina Garden. Nonprofit organizations will host tables and an arts and crafts station will be available for kids.
There will also be a three-hour performance from Banda La Congora and show by Ballet Folklorico Quetzalen.
Sanchez said that in the past they have only been able to have a banda for an hour, but the extended time this year was made possible through their sponsors Jorge Soto Relator, La Hacienda Sonoma Bar & Grill and Jauregui Landscape.
Sanchez encouraged guests to bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the full festival. Without a doubt, she said, there will be plenty of dancing as well.
To find more events over the monthlong celebration, go to pressdemocrat.com and search ‘Hispanic Heritage.’