Twenty Countries, Twenty Flavors

Festival encompasses a complex array of cultures

Fiesta Hendersonville unites dozens of cultures.
Photo used courtesy of Hola Community Arts.

Henderson County is rich in residents from Latin America, and Fiesta Hendersonville is the chance to experience heritage music, art, and food from 20 different countries.

This is the fourth annual happening, and Adriana Chavela, event organizer and executive director of Hola Community Arts, says the festival has grown up to 30 percent each year.

“We are very excited. Every year has been wonderful,” she says. “We’ve been lucky to have beautiful weather.” Even if weather dampens the ground — pretty unlikely in late September — it likely won’t dampen the party atmosphere. More than 80 vendors will be on hand, and beyond the selling of wares and food, much information will be shared about Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, and Mexico, among many other locales.

Celebrations like this, says Chavela, are intended to “foster respect and open-mindedness, as well as allow our common interests to unite and educate us. People need to learn to appreciate other cultures, and this is one way to accomplish that.”

Hola Community Arts has developed a series of community events to recognize the region’s ever-growing Latin American population, and Fiesta Hendersonville brings everything together on one plate, so to speak. (Previous events this year have included Hola Asheville in June and the Children’s Day Festival in Hendersonville in April. The popular Dia De Los Muertos takes place on Nov. 2 at Jackson Park.)

Dances, dress, and customs vary greatly from one country to the other, and the idea is for non-Latinos to realize the depth and differences of a comprehensive diaspora. Food is a great place to start.

“If you have spent time in South American food circles, you’re familiar with the diversity of the cuisines,” says Chavela, listing pupusas (stuffed flatbread) from El Salvador, pepitos (grilled beef sandwiches with caramelized onions and an array of condiments) from Venezuela, and empanadas from Argentina (spicy meat or other filling, often with raisins or olives, baked in pastry). 

“It will all be available here.”

Fiesta Hendersonville happens downtown, outside the Visitors Center (201 South Main St.), on Sunday, Sept. 22, 12-8pm. See this issue of Bold Life for a review of Cono Sur Latin American fusion restaurant in Mills River. For more information, see holacarolina.com, holacommunity.org, or call 828-989-2745.

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