Thousands attend Hispanic Fall Festival

Beautiful weather accompanied a day filled with food, fun, entertainment and lots of smiling faces for the 19th Annual Hispanic Festival at St. Jude Parish in Sarasota.

An estimated 10,000 people gathered at St. Jude for this event on Nov. 4, 2023, a celebration of both the individual nations and the unified culture of a diverse Parish.

Held annually in early November this annual Festival is the oldest one in Sarasota County to feature authentic Latino food, music and culture. The day includes musical performances and ethnic dancers as well as food from many nations. Throughout the Parish grounds were tents full of a wide variety of foods that left many mouths watering. People attend the event annually from as far away as Naples and Clearwater. It has become a much anticipated and beloved event for the ethnically diverse Sarasota Parish.

The celebration of more than a dozen countries lasted from morning until sunset. Throughout the day, there were performances, offering folk and modern music, and dance. Many proudly wore clothing representing their country of origin.

Martha Perez, 11, enjoyed trying a variety of foods, including papas rellenas from the Cuban food tent, which is a meat-filled potato ball. The highlight of the day for the young girl was the various dancers who wore colorful dresses. “It was so wonderful to see them dancing to such beautiful songs.”

The Hispanic Festival opened with prayer, followed by a “Parade of Flags” as each country represented at the festival was announced, and the respective flags brought forth cheers.

As a bilingual Parish, the members of both the English and the Spanish speaking congregation at St. Jude participated and volunteered to staff the booths.

Whether it was the food, the music, the dancing, or the joy of being around so many happy people, the Hispanic Festival was a success by any measure.

The proceeds of the Hispanic Festival go to support the various outreach efforts of St. Jude Parish, including a food pantry and other programs which help countless families throughout the year.

Hispanic Festival a part of Parish Jubilee

When it comes to planning the 50th Jubilee of the Parish, there is an option to host one large celebration or to be more inclusive and include commemorations which reflect the broad cultural diversity of the faith community. St. Peter the Apostle Parish, erected in Naples on June 11, 1974, has opted to host many Jubilee celebrations in the coming months, culminating in a big event in June 2024.

Therefore, Oct. 22, 2023, was the day of a Hispanic Festival at St. Peter’s, with more than 1,000 celebrating this diverse community with food, music, dance and ethnic clothing.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane was present and offered a prayer for the Festival participants, as well as for the continued success of the ongoing Parish Jubilee celebrations.

Father Gerard Critch, St. Peter the Apostle Pastor, said he was pleased by the response to the Hispanic Festival and said he was delighted to have such a vibrant Parish community that includes people of many different backgrounds.

Father Wilian Montalvo Tello, Parochial Vicar at St. Peter who supports the spiritual needs of the Hispanic community, was overjoyed by the celebration, and held a wide grin as he wore the traditional clothing of his native Peru.

Also present was Father Alejandro Giraldo-Roldan, Parochial Vicar serving the Hispanic faithful at nearby St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Agnes Parishes. Father is a native of Columbia who was ordained to the priesthood in July.

The Festival began with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This was followed by a procession and music led by performers dressed in Mayan and Aztec garb.

Throughout the afternoon and into the evening, participants had the opportunity to sample cuisine from more than a dozen Latin American countries. On the stage, there was a constant rotation of singers and dancers from the various countries.

As the music played, many sang along with the more traditional ballads. Throughout, nearly everyone present had small flags on their lapels, while most wore hats and traditional clothing or the colors of their homeland. Another option was to wear a shirt of the national sports team.

No matter where everyone was from, be it Latin America, the United States or elsewhere, a great time was had by all. As Father Critch explained, everyone better be prepared to party over and over again as the Jubilee celebration continues!

Hispanic Festival draws thousands

Staff Report

The 17th Annual Hispanic Festival at St. Jude Parish was another rousing success as an estimated 14,000 descended on the Sarasota Parish on Nov. 9 for a day filled with food, fun and entertainment.

The annual festival is a celebration of both the individual nations and the unified culture of a diverse people. Held annually in early November, the day includes musical performances, ethnic dancers and food from many nations. Throughout the parish grounds were tents full of a wide variety of food that left many mouths watering.

Cooler temperatures energized everyone as the celebration of more than a dozen countries lasted from morning until after sunset. Many wore shirts proclaiming to everyone their country of origin.

Throughout the day, there were performances from a variety of countries, offering both modern and traditional music and dance.

Isabella Rios, 12, enjoyed her papas rellenas from the Cuban food tent, which is a meat-filled potato ball, while listening to one of the rock bands before watching flamenco dancers perform. “The food is great, but I like the music and the dancers best.”

Father Celestino Gutierrez, Pastor of St. Jude, officially opened the Hispanic Festival with a prayer. This followed a “Parade of Flags” when each country represented at the festival was announced, and the respective flags brought forward to cheers from the crowd.

Whether it was the food, the music, the dancing or the joy of being around so many happy people, the Hispanic Festival was rated a massive success by any measure.

Thousands attend the event annually from as far away as Naples and Clearwater. It has become a much-anticipated event for the ethnically diverse Sarasota Parish. All of the proceeds of the Hispanic Festival go to support the various outreach efforts of the Parish, including helping countless families throughout the year.

As a bilingual Parish, the members of both the English and the Spanish speaking congregation participated and volunteered to staff the booths.  This annual Festival is the oldest one in Sarasota County to feature authentic Latino food, music and culture.

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