What began last year as a Hispanic cultural experiment is predicted to draw 24,000 people into uptown Charlotte on Saturday.
Thats double the crowd that attended the 2012 HOLA Charlotte Hispanic Heritage Festival. Bigger still is the number of venues backing the event, including Discovery Place, the Levine Museum of the New South, ImaginOn and 7th Street Public Market. Thats up from one museum last year.
Norsan Media, a Hispanic media conglomerate based in Atlanta, launched the festival last year as part of a push to elevate the communitys celebration of Hispanic culture.
Pamela Sanchez of Norsan Media said they expected 10,000 to attend last year, but 12,000 people turned out, even though it rained much of the day.
Charlotte has other Hispanic cultural events, including some sponsored by Norsan. Most are in parks across the city, she said.
To be completely honest, there is a feeling that some Hispanics dont feel comfortable going into uptown, whether its due to a language barrier or something else. They would rather stay on the outskirts of the city, Sanchez said.
We felt it was important for Hispanics to feel welcomed in uptown and took the initiative to change things. Closing down a street in uptown for the day is a big step toward recognizing this population.
The event will feature dance exhibitions, live music and Latin food, along with a village showcasing the culture of 10 Latin American countries.
Sanchez said Charlotte Center City Partners gets a lot of credit for the events growing support among uptown cultural facilities.
Last year, we listened and we watched, and what we saw was an opportunity to make something bigger, said Robert Krumbine, chief creative officer for Center City Partners. Whats in uptown is not here for a select number of people. Everybody needs to feel welcomed.
Uptown sites like the Mint Museum and the Levine Museum are trying to draw in a larger Hispanic audience, by using tactics such as bilingual exhibits and outreach consultants.
Tom Hanchett of the Levine Museum cited a recent Nielsen Latino market survey that showed Charlottes Hispanic population is growing faster than in any other region in the country. Thats based on 2000 to 2013 data.
There are lots of reasons for us to be involved in this event, and one of them is that the Latino population is making history now in Charlotte, Hanchett said.
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