Originally created 10/12/03

Festival offers lesson in Latin



Getting to the Augusta Common on Saturday was quite a journey for Juana Rubio.

First she flew from her homeland of Honduras to Nicaragua, then flew to Miami before driving to Augusta. All of this was so Ms. Rubio's visit with her sons could coincide with Augusta's Hispanic Festival.

The 11th annual festival was the second time she has sold miniature figures, bowls and other pottery pieces from Nicaragua, Peru and Honduras.

"They went from dirt to these beautiful pieces," Ms. Rubio said.

The purpose of her display and of the entire daylong festival was to educate and expose people to Latin culture.

"Through culture we bring people together," said Francisco Robles, the president of Asociacion Cultural Hispanoamerica, which puts on the festivities. "The festival is the best example of this."

ACHA is the oldest Latin American ethnic organization in Augusta. The group holds English and Spanish language classes, refers families to immigration attorneys and performs outreach. The Hispanic festival is the association's largest fund-raiser.

At this year's event, vendors sold empanadas and pina coladas, an announcer gave out prizes, and high school and college students competed in a Miss Latina pageant.

Perhaps the biggest change from past celebrations was the location switch to the Augusta Common, which provided a more centralized space downtown.

The onstage entertainment included Mexican and Puerto Rican-inspired folk dances and a mariachi band.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 people were expected to show up, but the rainy weather dropped attendance to the hundreds.

Volunteers from Glenn Hills High School manned the children's booth. Spanish teacher Emily Raburn said she chose to participate so that her Spanish club could become familiar with Hispanic customs.

"I think this is the best way for them to learn," she said. "They can taste the food and hear the music."

BY THE NUMBERS

STUDENT VOLUNTEERS: 200

PRICE OF FLAN: $1.50

DAYS IT TAKES TO MAKE LENCA POTTERY: 2

LATIN FLAGS REPRESENTED IN THE STAGE AREA: 20

PINA COLADAS SOLD, AS OF 7:30 P.M.: 50

NUMBER OF JUDGES IN THE MISS LATINA PAGEANT: 5

YEAR ASOCIACION CULTURAL HISPANOAMERICA STARTED: 1986

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.



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