Barrio Latino Arts Festival Celebrates Culture

Toledo Local Features  |  By Deanna Huffman  |  08/26/2015 9:00 am

Hispanic culture has a profound effect on American food, music, politics, economics, and traditions. This weekend, the Barrio Latino Art Festival will showcase Hispanic art and ways of life for all to enjoy during its 4th-annual Family Fun Festival on Sunday, August 30. The festival, which coincides with Hispanic  Heritage month, will kick off at The Providence Center, 1205 Broadway Street at noon.  Hispanic Heritage month celebrates Hispanic heritage and culture, and the Barrio Latino Arts Festival does the same.

"Our mission is to support artists, promote the arts in our community, and create funds for local charitable organizations," said Linda Parra, founder and president of Nuestra Gente Community Projects, the nonprofit that oversees the festival.

Proceeds from the festival support three local non-profit organizations: Nuestra Gente Community Projects, The Providence Center, and Toledo Seagate Food Bank of Northwest Ohio.

This year, festival-goers can expect some new additions, including a giant mural painting. The Festival will host Ricardo Quiñones, an artist from Texas who will design the mural. "Different artists and community members can participate in the painting," said Parra.

Other features include crafts, live Mexican folk dance music, a car show, a jalapeno eating contest, and children’s activities. Ohio-based Latino artists will also display and sell handmade art works including drawings, paintings, pottery, and jewelry that reflect traditional and contemporary Latin American culture.

This year, the Barrio Distinguished Artist Award will celebrate the accomplishments of the late Joe Martinez, artist and community advocate.

"Joe Martinez was born and raised in Toledo's old south end. He used his skills as an artist and his knowledge of life on the streets to help at-risk youths channel their energies to better their community,” Parra said.  “Under his direction, he would gather gang members and teach them how to paint culturally themed murals on office buildings and bridges in an effort to beautify the neighborhood," she explained.

As for her favorite aspect of the festival, Parra enjoys "getting the community involved."  The Barrio Latino Art Festival encourages a sense of community pride and unity. "It's not often that everyone in town gets invited to the same party. We provide a rare occasion for the whole community to relax and have fun, she said. “For artists and craftspeople, it's an opportunity to demonstrate and exhibit their skills.”