Naperville Sister Cities Foundation Hosts Second Annual Hispanic Heritage Festival

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The Naperville Sister Cities Foundation hosted its second annual Hispanic Heritage Festival on Saturday, September 17 in Naperville’s Central Park.

Celebrating Sister Cities and Hispanic Community

The celebration was to recognize the Hispanic community within Naperville and pay homage to two of Naperville’s sister cities, Cancun and Patzcuaro, both in Mexico.

“Naperville is a wonderfully diverse community, and there are a lot of people to represent. I think Sister Cities really stands for identity. It stands for representation. It stands for contribution. And we want to honor all of that. And there’s nothing better way to do that than with food with dancing, with music, all sorts of great things that really make the city awesome,” said Lance Fuhrer, Chair of Sister Cities Commission.

Local Vendors Show Off Heritage In Their Wares

The four-hour festival celebrated Hispanic culture, inviting vendors to show their wares while representing their heritage.

“One of our priorities was to be as authentic as we could. And so we want to bring in small businesses that are practicing their craft, that are culturally authentic and that come and develop. There either works of art or clothing or food really from the heart. And many of them are bringing, you know, recipes and design from their ancestors that brought their culture to our city,” said Fuhrer.

Future Events

Through events such as the Hispanic Heritage Festival, the Sister Cities Commission hopes to continue its mission by sharing aspects of Naperville’s sister cities with the community.

“In the years to come, we plan to have more events like this, to expand it to more businesses as well as to do under the city’s banner, more events, especially a neutral one off our other sister city, which is from Europe.” said, Shafeek Abubaker, board member on the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Awards Given

Some awards were given out at the festival, with Carlos Madinya receiving the Sister Cities Foundation Commerce award for bringing increased economic growth through Latino inclusion.

“The way that I communicate and bring a lot of other heritage from the Latino perspective, into Naperville is bringing up the commonality that we all have. It’s showcasing the Naperville community with our Riverwalk, our hotels and everything that we offer and how each of the different communities that we have in the Latin countries, how they can participate and become part of that same community, ” says Madinya.

The festival was augmented with other events in the downtown area in the days leading up to the fest, such as a scavenger hunt, a bilingual story time at the library, and cooking classes. Some local businesses also had specials in honor of the celebration.

NCTV17’s Marcel Francis reports.

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