Hispanic Festival brings soccer, food, music to Calder Plaza

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Hispanic Festival kicked off Friday at Calder Plaza, bringing food, music and culture to downtown Grand Rapids.

The event was hosted by the Besides the food and entertainment, the children’s soccer tournament was going on, starting at 11 am Saturday. About 300 kids ages 6-14 competed to win it all.

Festivalgoers could watch the tournament, walk around to 11 different vendors cooking traditional Venezuelan, Cuban and Puerto Rican food, as well as food from many other Hispanic cultures.

“We have a ton of fun celebrating, dancing, and really, celebrating the diversity in the culture. Because it’s not just one subset of Hispanic culture here in West Michigan, we have a … variety of different people from all over South America,” said Cesar Gonzalez, the Hispanic Festival Chair.

This year, there is even more entertainment than in years past. Musicians from all over, including California, Texas and Chicago will be playing, as well as some local acts.

Organizers said so many people showed up Friday night that vendors were selling out. However, they had since restocked and were ready for a full day Saturday.

Evelyn Esparza, executive director of the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, said that the event is important for the organization.

“This is the main fundraiser event for the Hispanic center, so we rely on the funding from this event to continue programming that is not necessarily covered by any of our grants or sponsorships for other programming,” Esparza said. “So, this is vital for the center to continue doing what it’s supposed to do in our community.”

The Hispanic Festival runs until 11:30 pm Saturday night and from 11 am to 4:45 pm on Sunday.

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