Grand Rapids to celebrate Hispanic culture through an annual festival – Grand Valley Lanthorn
The 44th Annual Grand Rapids Hispanic Festival is set to take place for the first time since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will once again be a space where the community comes together through music, food and dance.
The festival will start on August 5, 2022 and will take place over three days.
Grand Rapids is home to approximately 33,000 Hispanic Americans, and the Grand Rapids Hispanic Festival celebrates this deeply rooted culture.
The festival is a fundraiser organized by The Hispanic Center, a nonprofit organization founded in 1978 with a mission to provide social care and stability to Hispanic communities in Michigan. The center strives to provide resources such as grants and educational opportunities for individuals.
However, this event aims to engage everyone in a multitude of performances.
Grand Rapids Hispanic Festival communications director Elizabeth Hickel said this year the event will have more groups and activities than in previous years and everyone is welcome to participate. Groups will come from various countries in South America and Mexico to offer their own styles of musical performances.
“There will be a catalog of Latin musical bands and groups who will present their different representations of storytelling through their music,” Hickel said.
On the first day of the event, various bands will welcome the audience with their musical styles. Some of the bands that perform include Tributo a Mana, Arkangel R-15 and Sonora Tropicana. Many of these groups develop a fusion of traditional Hispanic music with other genres.
For example, Tributo a Mana is a Chicago, Illinois-based band specializing in classic and modern rock as well as traditional Latin music. Additionally, Arkangel R-15 is a regional Mexican band founded by Jesus Navarro in Las Varas, Nayarit, specializing in the Technobanda genre. Technobanda takes regional Mexican music and replaces some instruments like synthesizers. The R-15 also refers to an assault rifle known in the banda mafia music genre.
In addition to the more modern elements of the festival’s musical performances, there are traditional dances. One tradition is a Mexican folk dance that is often referred to as “the national dance of Mexico”. This dance is commonly done between a man and a woman and celebrates romantic courtship.
“It’s a traditional Mexican dance that has many forms throughout Latin history,” Hickel said. “For example, the most popular folk dance is the Tapatío jarabe, which people like to call the Mexican hat dance.”
However, this dance was not so openly celebrated. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Spanish colonizers banned the practice of this dance due to its sexually suggestive nature. There was a resurgence of this dance after Mexican independence in 1821 and is now a central part of the culture.
The integration of new and traditional cultural elements aims to make the festival an experience that connects participants to the past, present and future of the community’s heritage.