The festival was a way to celebrate the city’s diverse Latino population who make up 40% of the community.
Wyndham, Connecticut – The town of Wyndham held its first multicultural Latino festival Saturday in Gilson Square to celebrate the town’s Hispanic residents.
40% of the city is Latino. It started when mills were still operating and people were coming from Puerto Rico to work, says Jim Bellano, director of community and economic development. It has since closed, but the culture and the people have stayed.
“Being Latino, I’m very proud of my culture,” said Brenda Engels, Wellemantec. “This is a very small community but there are as many Latinas who live here as Puerto Ricans and Mexicans and Peruvians, of all kinds.”
People can learn about the culture and cuisine of various Hispanic legacies. Angeles Mexican Food Restaurant offers authentic flavors for people to experience. They’ve been in town since the ’90s.
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“It’s amazing because we have so many different people from different countries. They’re like, ‘I’ve never tried Mexican food, let me try it’ and they leave and come back, ‘Can I get another taco?’ Edith Gonzalez said.
Dozens of food vendors and dozens of other vendors filled the park on Saturday as bands played on the Shabu stage all day long.
The money the city received from the US bailout helped provide for the event. Bellano says they wanted to help local businesses.
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“I’ve spoken to people from Bridgeport, New Britain and New London who are also here,” he said. “People are happy because of the music and because of the food here.”
He says the city’s history is seen everywhere including the police department and city leadership. The director says there was and still is plenty of opportunity for people in Wyndham.
Gladys LeBron Martinez was in town from Massachusetts and decided to stop by the event.
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“We heard it on the radio. We said let’s go check it out and see what it has to offer when it comes to multicultural societies,” she said. “It brings people together, get rich. It shows we have different ethnic groups.”
People say, although the city may have a rich Puerto Rican history, there are many diverse groups of people in Wyndham and this event helps celebrate them all.
The second annual County Windham Festival will kick off September 24th at Gilson Square. Bellano says they are looking forward to hosting the multicultural Latin festival again next year.
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