Fiesta! Es Hora De Bailar

Sundae Horn

Translation: It's time to dance at the Fiesta Latina this Saturday.

Fiesta! Es Hora De Bailar

Enjoy tacos, music, games, dancing, and even cerveza at the Community Center this Saturday, April 29th. Eduardo will start serving his delicious, authentic Mexican Tacos al Carbon de Pollo y Bisteak (chicken or steak) at 6pm. You know you want some! Take it home or eat it in the company of friends and neighbors. Practice your Spanish while you're at it. 

Music, dancing, and games starts at 9pm and the fun lasts 'til midnight. The Fiesta Latina is open to everyone, and will be a family friendly, cultural, community event. 

This Fiesta Latina will be the first of seven fundraising events sponsored by Ocracoke Alive to support the 2nd annual Festival Latino de Ocracoke scheduled for Saturday, November 11, 2017.

"We're hoping to have a lot of people," said fiesta organizer and Ocracoke Alive board member Freddy Contreras. "We want people to have fun and to laugh, and we want to give back to Ocracoke Alive and to the community that supported the Latino festival last year."

Freddy and his committee plan to keep the fiestas affordable for everyone. The $5 entry fee doesn't apply until 9pm when the music starts, and the tacos, beer, and soft drinks will be reasonably priced. A local deejay will provide the tunes. (There are three deejays on the island who specialize in Hispanic music, and the fiestas will take turns hiring them each. Freddy hopes to raise enough money to hire some live bands at later events.)

"We had lots of sponsors and donors last year and that was great," Freddy said. "But we decided one way to make more money and secure the festival is fundraisers all summer."

If you attended the late night dance at last November's Festival Latino, then you know how enthusiastic the dancers can be about a rousing game of musical chairs. Expect to see similar antics this Saturday. 

Another popular game to play or watch is the balloon game. A couple gets some balloons and has to pop them between their bodies. Freddy explained it could be by putting the balloon on the man's lap and having the woman sit on it, or breaking the balloon chest to chest. Hilarity will no doubt ensue.

Winners of musical chairs, the balloon game, and others (Freddy is still deciding on games) will receive gift certificates donated by Ocracoke eateries.

Each girl represents a Mexican state: Jade (San Luis Potosi), Karen (Jalisco), Bricia (Veracruz), Iris (Sinaloa), Vanessa (Puebla), Ingrid (Guerrero), Lupita (Neuvo Leon)
Each girl represents a Mexican state: Jade (San Luis Potosi), Karen (Jalisco), Bricia (Veracruz), Iris (Sinaloa), Vanessa (Puebla), Ingrid (Guerrero), Lupita (Neuvo Leon)

Last November, the first ever Festival Latino de Ocracoke was a great success. It was a full day of food, games, cooking lessons, cultural immersion, dancing, music, community, and amor. I learned to make piñatas with Olga Santiago, tortillas with Gloria Perez, and guacamole with Eduardo Chavez (yes, the Eduardo). I ate Mexican foods I'd never even heard of or seen before. I danced to a mariachi band. And I learned a lot about Mexico and its culture. Everyone around seemed just as enchanted with the day's events as I was. The evening of Ballet Folklorico dancing was amazing, and our local girls, dressed in their native costumes, were a lovely sight.

The Festival Latino was a joint venture between Ocracoke's Latino community and Ocracoke Alive, a non-profit dedicated to the arts and culture. A committee of Freddy Contreras, Gloria Perez, Cira Badilla, Aldo Serrano, Adrian Espinoza, and Eduardo Chavez worked with David Tweedie of Ocracoke Alive to create an event to celebrate Mexican culture and share it with Ocracoke residents and visitors.

Earlier in 2017, I attended a Festival Latino committee meeting, which was, no surprise, held in Spanish. What was I thinking? I smiled and I listened and laughed when they laughed and thought I was fooling everyone, but then Freddy's sister Edith Contreras saved me by translating. Here's the gist of what she told me:

The festival grossed $13,000 and after paying all expenses and making the donations ($500 to Ocracoke School and $500 to Ocracoke Child Care), they had $1200 left. They all agreed to hold dances for fundraisers so they could have enough money to put on another great festival in 2017 and even have it grow a bit (more bands, more fun!)

"It's important to us to share our culture with the island," Freddy said. Edith added that for members of the Latino community who've been here a long time, it's also important to remember and celebrate their Mexican heritage. "My girls need to know about their culture," Edith said of her three American-born-and-raised children.

Las Guitarras Mexicanos at the 2016 Festival Latino de Ocracoke
Las Guitarras Mexicanos at the 2016 Festival Latino de Ocracoke

Other fundraising ideas that were bandied about were a Spanish karaoke night, la fogata on the beach during la lune llena, and more food workshops. Everyone wants to know how to make tamales. I recently heard from a very good source that tamales are a lot of work. I want to find out for myself.

The next Fiesta Lantina food and dance party will be Saturday, June 3rd during the Ocrafolk Festival. It will be held in the school gym (that means no beer.) After that, the other five fiestas will be back at the Community Center with the cerveza flowing. 


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