Dubuque: La Luz Hispana Celebrates First Annual Gran Festival

A spectacular multitude of Franklin County residents, friends, Dubuque Presentation Sisters and Associates, and family congregated in Hampton on June 4, to celebrate the community’s cultural diversity in a Gran Festival. With more than 1,500 people in attendance, this first annual event showcased the growing Hispanic culture through music, dances, food, games, handicrafts, and other products and events. The Gran Festival was planned by a commission of eight persons meeting for several weeks in the headquarters of La Luz Hispana, the nonprofit agency initiated by the Sisters of the Presentation of Dubuque, Iowa. Brook Boehmler, mayor of Hampton, and other influential Hampton leaders were especially helpful to Dubuque Presentation Sister Carmen Hernandez, president of the committee.

La Luz Hispana is beginning its fourth year of service to the Hispanic people of the Greater Franklin County area offering ESL classes, advocacy, healthy living, computer and sewing skills, financial planning, networking with the schools and agencies and Mexican cultural dance. The ministry is also planning a Citizen Learning Center (CLC) for this fall. This CLC will provide materials, information and assistance to legal immigrants in the process of naturalization.

Adriana Noah from Meraki and Sol Photography comments, “I had the opportunity to attend the Latino Festival in Hampton, hosted by La Luz Hispana. I would say it was a great turn out with food, activities for children, horse rides along with some cute animals and traditional Latino and Aztec dances. We also had several groups play such as Passion Tropical, La Voz del Sur and Banda Oro. It was a great way to start the summer!”

Pia Hovenga and members of “Viva Iowa!” the newly-created Spanish newspaper, were also taking pictures and eyeing news stories during the planning process and throughout the entire event. This newspaper announced the Gran Festival for several weeks. Frankie Aliu from Mid-America Publishing that produces “The Hampton Chronicle” was also helpful in creating signage and other announcements for the Gran Festival.

Sister Carmen notes, “A big shout out to our main sponsors for making this day possible: Tello Enterprises, Franklin County Pork Producers and ABCM. Thanks also to our supporting sponsors, the many businesses who donated items, time and services. Our special thanks to Melissa Pacheco, our MC, and Fernando Aveiga, our DJ, as well as to the City of Hampton, to all of our volunteers and to anyone I may have missed. It was a great day! Thank you for your support and for all who came to share in the fun.”

One Hispanic woman remarks, “This was the best Latino festival that I have ever attended, anywhere!”

The festival had a two-fold purpose. It was an opportunity to strengthen community relationships, get to know neighbors and connect cultures, as well as to raise funds for La Luz Hispana, which has depended largely on the Dubuque Sisters of the Presentation, with the addition of other donations for its day-to-day expenses.

“It is time for La Luz Hispana to become self-sufficient and stand on its own two feet,” states Sister Carmen. “Therefore, the proceeds will help to create this future.” The festival netted around $20,000 toward becoming self-sustaining.

Below, The Grupo de Danza Folklorica performed at the Gran Festival in Hampton, Iowa, on June 4. The festival celebrated the community’s cultural diversity by showcasing the growing Hispanic culture through music, dances, food, games, handicrafts and more.