On Saturday, Sept. 27 Market Square was alive with the sounds of salsa. The 15th annual HoLa Festival kicked off with music and dancing as the Orquesta de Jamie Bonilla played a mix of Hispanic music and the crowd learned to dance with Music City Salsa.
The festival aimed to connect the different Hispanic cultures in Knoxville and show the public the music, food, dance and art Spanish speaking countries have to offer. For HoLa Festival’s first two-day event, vendors lined the square selling traditional foods, bracelets, clothing and art.
Host Anderson Maldonado introduced the festival in a mix of Spanish and English, saying “It’s so nice to have people of all nations together tonight to celebrate” and the focus on diversity continued throughout the weekend.
Maldonado recognized many different countries during his introductions. Performers and artists showed cultural influences from Cuba, Peru, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Argentina, Bolivia, Buenos Aires, and Spanish Gypsies.
Steven Gomez, a volunteer at HoLa Festival, thinks the event is a great way to show all aspects of the Latin American culture.
“The Latino community spans a lot of Knoxville,”said Gomez. “And it’s just a good way to introduce all the different cultures that make up Latin America. There are a lot of people who associate everything with Mexico, and that’s not the case. You need to think about all the other countries that do make up Latin America.It’s a way to get the community involved and make them aware of other cultures besides the ones that are obvious to them.”
The Festival kickoff featured the Orquestra de Jamie Bonilla, a salsa band from Clarksville, Tenn., who played crowd pleasing songs.
Soon after Music City Salsa took to the stage member Tonya Miller led the crowd in beginners salsa, saying “If you’ve got moves, you’ve gotta show your moves.”
The group then performed a competition piece they will be using at the World Latin Dance Cup in Miami.
The HoLa Festival continued on Sunday, Sept. 28 with more dancing, music, crafts and theater performances.
Edited by Jessica Carr