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 rich in culture and they are eager to share their customs and traditions with their new friends in Alabama.
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.
In 2002, the HBC provided leadership for the creation of Fiesta, a not-for profit organization whose board of directors produce the yearly event with the help of the HBC members and interested community volunteers. 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."
Fiesta's goal is "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 the history is surprising to many. Hispanics 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?
This year will be Fiesta’s 9th celebration and a new energy is in the air as the event moves to Regions Park in the City of Hoover within the Birmingham Region. The City of Hoover is represented by many different cultures and backgrounds and has a large Hispanic population. The success of Fiesta continues to grow and evolve because the community continues to embrace this event as its own and has done so since its inception. As in past years, Fiesta will continue to showcase what the Birmingham Region can provide to its community in terms of multiculturalism, sensitivity and acceptance. All Hispanic cultures will be celebrated, and patrons will leave Fiesta with a rich appreciation of our Latino neighbors.