Fiesta de Rowan breaks down barriers

Published 12:11 am Monday, October 8, 2018

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — Saturday was a day for building bridges during La Fiesta de Rowan. The festival, a celebration of Latino culture, sought to reach out to the Salisbury community — Latino and non-Latino alike.

“It’s awesome. It’s an opportunity to really highlight that we have a vibrant Latino population,” said Flora Claderon-Steck, vice chairwoman of the Rowan County Latino Coalition.

The festival, now in its third year, was organized by the coalition and the Human Relations Council. Its goal was to share culture, to help local Latinos network and to remind the Salisbury and Rowan County communities that Latinos make numerous contributions to the area.

The festival featured posting the colors and the national anthems of various countries, as well as live entertainment.

“From now on, it’s just music and dance,” Calderon-Steck said as the first band started up.

Also present were Latino business owners and entrepreneurs. Evelyn Medina, owner and operator of Mean Mug coffee shop, doled out Mexican Coca-Cola and sweet, fruity Jamaica tea made from hibiscus flowers. Whenever someone asked about the purple-colored tea, she’d laugh.

“You’ve never had it? Where have you been?” she’d say, pouring a small amount for tasting.

To Medina, that’s a big part of what Fiesta de Rowan is all about — breaking down barriers.

“Even though language sometimes is an issue, music and food can overcome those barriers,” she said.

Though the number of local Latino business owners is few, Medina said, they are mighty.

“(Fiesta de Rowan) is the Latino community’s opportunity to show off what we have to offer this community,” she said.

In addition to live music, the festival featured traditional folk dances and dance lessons. Calderon-Steck said Fiesta de Rowan usually attracts about 300 people, but with a new location at Bell Tower Park, they hoped to increase that number.

“We wanted to double what we’ve had in the past,” she said.

Previous festivals were held at the Salisbury Civic Center and on Fisher Street. This is its first year on the Bell Tower block, and Calderon-Steck said she and other festival organizers hope it can remain there.

Music included performances by Banda Arcenal, Mariachi Los Gavilanes, Ballet Guadalupano, Pasión Costeña and Jorge Daza.

The festival was sponsored by Food Lion, Novant Health, Hotwire Communications, Rowan County, the city of Salisbury and Lutheran Services of the Carolinas.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.