The annual Fiesta Latina (a Latin Party) will take place next weekend in downtown West Liberty on Saturday, Sept. 11, with officials unveiling the line-up of entertainment beginning at 3 p.m. that afternoon.
Thanks to one individual, local residents are about to enjoy West Liberty’s 12th Fiesta Latina. Our community is fortunate that we may only have 3,800 people living here, but we are blessed with a diversity of almost 52 percent Latino population.
Francisco Martinez joined the West Liberty community in 1996 so he and his family could be close to health care opportunities in Iowa City for his disabled son. Francisco first came to the United States in the mid 1980’s working in the agriculture fields of Texas and Florida before moving to Illinois and ultimately to West Liberty. Francisco is a proud Mexican-American and, since living in West Liberty, has become a United States citizen.
Francisco enjoys being a part of the West Liberty community and is celebrating 25 years at West Liberty Foods, LLC. But just living here has not been enough for Francisco as he works every year to bring a fun, festive and entertaining experience to the entire community, not just the Latino community. Francisco takes great pride in bringing quality entertainment to West Liberty at “no charge” for all residents.
He created this annual celebration for St. Joseph's Catholic Church in 2006. This then became an annual event for both the church and the community. This continued for six years until 2012.
After a few years of taking a break, people in the community came to Francisco asking that he once again organize the celebration in the festive, fun way he is skilled to organize.
In 2016, he again organized the Fiesta after taking a four-year break. In 2017, he founded the non-profit organization, Latinos Unidos of West Liberty and the Fiesta Latina has continued solely under this organization. Francisco has organized the Fiesta Latina under the name of Latinos Unidos since 2017.
This year, the community will be entertained by several international musicians and dancers including:
• 3-4:30 p.m. – Estrella De Oro MX, from Chicago
• 4:30-5 p.m. – Noryli Villada Avila, D.J. Nomada
• 5-6 p.m. – Danza de los Viejitos de Iowa and Corazon Latino Ballet Folklorico de Mexico
• 6-7:30 p.m. – Los Dragones de la Cumbia from Chicago
• 8-9:30 p.m. – La Unica, Internacional, SONORA SANTANERA, from Mexico
There will also be a variety of food vendors serving numerous Mexican/Latino dishes to satisfy every appetite!
Martinez said it’s “very likely” the second Fiesta Latina parade will take place this year as well, starting at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Spencer Street near Jeff’s Market.
He’s hoping local citizens turn out in native Latino country costumes or attire to help educate attendees about their native lands. They are also welcome to march in the short parade, which will begin on Spencer Street, run north to Fifth Street, west to Calhoun Street and finish back at the festival on Third Street. The local chapter of LULAC the League of United Latin American Citizens, is expected to participate as well in the parade.
Martinez said there may not be a train this year for the party, but said local youths will be entertained with a mechanical bull as well as another bounce house at the event.
There is also a benefit drawing to win a new Generation 8 32gb Apple iPad. The winner of the prize will be drawn during the Fiesta Latina and the winner need not be present. Tickets can still be purchased at the New York Dollar Store, 320 N. Calhoun St., West Liberty. The iPad is being donated by Tom Brooke and Bill Koellner, a pair of local community supporters.
Local residents are reminded to mark their calendar and be sure to come enjoy great entertainment and food with your West Liberty neighbors!
The Fiesta concludes a day of activities in West Liberty that opens with the 24th annual Children’s Festival which runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Third Street downtown area, with puppet shows coodinated through Eulespiegel Puppet Theatre in West Liberty, more than a dozen bubble making stations and all kinds of other activities including mask making.