Fiesta spices up Indy

Fiesta Indianapolis is like stepping foot into another country.

This year’s festival, held annually as a celebration of Latino culture, was presented by La Plaza at Military Park downtown.

2010 marked the 30th anniversary of the tradition.

The chosen slogan for this year, “Where the Americas Come Together,” was symbolic of the La Plaza organization and it’s contributions to the Indianapolis community.

La Plaza is a nonprofit that is a ground-breaking effort to be the trusted liaison between Latinos and the larger community, according to its Web site,

“La Plaza exists to serve, empower and integrate the Latino community of Central Indiana,” the Web site says.

Vendors at Fiesta sold a variety of items including homemade bracelets, wooden turtle figurines and colorful bags.

Festival-goers could also enjoy a wide-range of foods, from the traditional Latin American and Tex-Mex dishes to fair food favorites.

Favorite food items included a drink called a Horchata, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice and barley.

Churros, a popular dessert in Mexico and Spain, were available with flavors like chocolate, strawberry and Bavarian crème fillings.

There were also more well-known Hispanic food like tacos and burritos.

FiestaTour returned this year with the McDonalds Music Experience on North Street.

FiestaTour included a mobile exhibit with more than 60 memorabilia items of famous Latin artists from the last 50 years.

The main stage hosted a mixture of traditional and current rhythms of the mariachi, flamenco, tango, salsa and meringue music, along with  a variety of bands.

Second-time festival-goer and Butler senior Lena White said the dancing was her favorite part of this year’s festival.

“I was abroad last semester in Chile, so it was wonderful to get a little taste of that here in Indy,” White said.

The arts and crafts booths include mask -making, traditional Mexican paper flowers, face painting, maraca decorating and stories read in both English and Spanish.

These both were run by local high school and college student volunteers.  The cultural booths host a variety of Latin American arts and games that educate everyone that participates.

“It was a great way for community members in Indianapolis to come together and engage in the Hispanic culture of the Indianapolis community,” Butler senior and Multicultural Recruitment Team member Ashlee Cerda said.

Cerda said one important aspect of this year’s festival was the inclusion of a health and wellness fair. She said it was a great way to provide the Hispanic community with health information along with  an opportunity for  free health screenings.

“There was a lot of information that the community could receive for health education and diversity,” she said. “Overall, it was just a great opportunity to see the traditional Hispanic dancing, hear the music and try some really great food.”