VALHALLA – Westchester County held its annual Hispanic Heritage festival at the Kenisco Dam Plaza on Sunday.
“We were invited to attend and share our culture in this event, which is to celebrate all Hispanic culture,” said Rene Mejia, a resident of Newburgh.
Mejia was the vendor for a stand that sold traditional freshwaters from Mexico. “We’ve made strawberry horchata, tamarind, hibiscus, or Jamaica, as we call it, lemonade, mango and pineapple.” Customers could buy an iced cup or try a free sample. His stand was one among over a dozen of food/drink vendors.
“We came to the country when my grandfather immigrated back in the 80s. So, we’re bringing some of our traditions from Puebla, Mexico, over here to the Hudson Valley,” he added.
The Hispanic Heritage Festival also had live music from Hispanic performers such as Judith Violinist, Pablito y su Latín Show and Santiago y la Orquesta. Some people also had shops open near the performance area.
“Hispanic culture is filled with rich culinary cuisine, musical, religious, and holiday traditions that are passed down among families and celebrated within the Hispanic community,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer in a press release.
“My family and I are here to enjoy the Hispanic Heritage Festival,” said Eileen Escobedo.
“We’re Peruvian American, so we’re just here to see the vibes and see the performances and see the vendors. We’re kind of hanging out to celebrate the Hispanic community.”
“I’ve seen a lot of different races today. And I think that is very beautiful. I think it’s indicative of what the Hudson Valley is, which is a big old melting pot of all different cultures,” said Mejia.
“Hispanic culture is known for close ties with family as well as their strong connection to community. They care for one another and look to succeed as a whole,” said Latimer.
The festival was to be held “rain or shine,” according to parks.westchester.gov.
“It has been raining all morning. The people are still very lively and the dances have been going on. I think that just represents how much the community one, loves to show off their culture and two, how much people want to learn what is supposedly a Hispanic event.” said Mejia.
The Hispanic Heritage Festival is co-sponsored by Westchester County Parks, Westchester Hispano, Westchester Medical Center Health Network, Affinity by Molina Health Care, Sir Speedy, Brady Golberg Law and M&T Bank.