What does it mean to be Latino?
For Jose Beteta, this question has been at the forefront of his mind since the 2016 presidential election brought Latinos into the spotlight of national politics. Made keenly aware of the disconnect between media portrayals of the Latino population and his own experience with Boulder’s community, Beteta sought to set the record straight.
And so the Colorado Latino Festival was born.
“The discourse of the national conversation portrayed latinos negatively,” the festival co-founder and Executive Director of the Latino Chamber says. “I wanted to show how diverse we are…I felt the way to do that was to show it through food, art, music, and other cultural events.”
The Colorado Latino Festivals celebrates Latin identity and the vibrant multicultural diaspora that spans Mexico’s northern border all the way down to Argentina’s southernmost point and beyond. The fourth annual event, which will take place at various locations throughout Boulder from Monday, June 17 through Sunday, June 23, showcases the community’s multiplicity through cultural exhibits, performances, and cuisine.
“[The festival] caters to quite a few people,” says Beteta. “For Latinos, it gives you a taste of home. If you’re not Latino, you’re more than welcome. One of the main pointse is to learn about who we are and what we do. We encourage you to come immerse yourself.”
Since its inaugural appearance on Longmont’s Main Street in 2016, the Latino Festival has only grown. The first two years attracted 7,000 and 14,000 guests respectively, and last year’s celebration in its new Boulder location drew a crowd of 17,000 to its Central Park.
This year, the festival is expanding beyond its main Sunday event into a full week of programming to highlight its theme: Unity. It kicks off on Monday, June 17 with a celebration of immigrants and an interactive public art installation in front of the Boulder County Courthouse (June is Immigrant Heritage Month). On Wednesday, musical group Pink Hawks will headline Boulder’s weekly outdoor summer concert series, Bands on the Bricks, on Pearl Street. In the final lead-up to the big event, organizers, in partnership with the Museum of Boulder and immigrant-focused nonprofit FWD.us, will host a screening and panel discussion of The Quiet Force, a film about Hispanic immigrants living in Colorado’s ski towns.
As for the main event, Sunday’s Central Park festival will feature two stages of family friendly performances from nearly 20 Colorado groups including Jyemo Club, Las Dahlias, and Conjunto Colores. The Latino-owned Raices Brewing Company (Jose Beteta is a co-owner), will be featured alongside a plethora of food and drink vendors to complement the fun and excitement. Visitors can also expect to find informational booths for more than 50 nonprofits, Colorado startups and companies, and government organizations and municipalities.
If you go: The main attraction is Sunday, June 23 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m at Boulder’s Central Park off Canyon Boulevard. Admission to the festival and lead-up events, which begin on Monday, June 17, are free. For the full catalogue of events including times and locations, click here.