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Iowa Central to host Afro-Latino Festival

-Messenger file photo by Hans Madsen
Irma Iscobedo, of Des Moines, center, along with other members of Nuestra Danza Sin Fronteras, demonstrate traditional Mexican dances Tuesday morning during the Afro-Latino Festival at Iowa Central Community College.

With National Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing, Iowa Central Community College will be hosting its second annual Afro-Latino Festival on Sept. 30 at the Career Education Building on the college’s main campus.

The Iowa Central Afro-Latino Festival was created in 2019 by ICCC Spanish instructor Andrea Estling.

The festival will include projects created by Estling’s students, music of Peruvian pan flutes, Mexican dancers and a music group from Des Moines that plays a fusion of Andean and South American folk music using traditional instruments like the zampona, quena and charango.

Estling, who is a native of Bogota, Colombia, is eager to introduce the Iowa Central community to Afro-Latino and Hispanic cultures and celebrate its diversity.

“The population of Hispanics are growing a lot, especially in Storm Lake and Fort Dodge and Eagle Grove,” she said. “And I’ve noticed in the classrooms, more Hispanics being part of Iowa Central and I wanted to bring for some of my students their first experience with Hispanic culture.”

The students in Eastling’s Spanish classes each chose a country from South America to do research on and create a poster to present. Other students were given currency from some Latin countries so they could research the individual featured on the bills, like artist Frida Kahlo on the Mexican 500 pesos note, or Nobel Prize winner Alfonso Lopez Michelsen on the Colombian 20,000 pesos note.

The festival will also include free Cuban food and churros.

“I wanted to bring something different,” Estling explained. “I know Fort Dodge has Mexican restaurants, so people are more familiar with Mexican food, so I wanted to bring something different.”

The Smeltzer Trust and the Catherine Vincent Deardorft Foundation are sponsoring the festival.

“This event is possible because of them,” Estling said.

High school Spanish classes from Fort Dodge Senior High and Greene County High School will also be at the festival.

If you go:

What: Iowa Central Afro-Latino Festival

When: Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Career Education Building on Iowa Central’s main campus

Cost: Free and open to the public

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