WINCHESTER — The Northern Shenandoah Valley’s growing Hispanic and Latino communities will be the focus of Saturday’s Celebración of Winchester.
“We’ll have 40-plus vendors and lots of food,” said Joel Richardson, president of the nonprofit Winchester Main Street Foundation that’s organizing the free cultural celebration. “We’re trying to get food from across the spectrum.”
Vanessa Santiago, business and community development manager for the Winchester Economic Development Department and a co-organizer of this year’s event, said Mexican, El Salvadorian and Puerto Rican cuisines will be among those represented.
“We focused a lot on diversity,” Santiago said.”Each vendor has to sell a different dish; they cannot sell the same thing [as someone else]. People can come to one vendor, then go to another to try something different.”
Celebración of Winchester coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month 2023, which is Sept. 15-Oct. 15.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 17,585 people identified as Hispanic or Latino in Winchester, Frederick County and Clarke County as of July 1, 2022. The combined population of the three jurisdictions is 138,253.
“For me, it’s always been important to have as many people visible in the community as possible,” Richardson said. “One of the reasons David [Smith, Winchester mayor and Winchester Main Street Foundation founder] started it was because he wanted that kind of community spirit. It’s important.”
The first Celebración of Winchester was held in September 2013 and has grown steadily. Last September’s celebration, Richardson said, brought more than 1,000 people to Old Town Winchester.
“The food vendors sold out multiple times,” he said. “It was a good problem to have.”
Richardson said this year’s event will take place downtown on the Loudoun Street Mall from noon to 4 p.m. It will be a family-friendly gathering “with lots of stuff for the kids to do, which I’m really excited about.”
“We have some dancers coming from 12:30 to 1:30 [p.m.], and then we have a band coming from 2 to 3, and we’ll have a DJ between 2 and 4,” Santiago said. “I’m expecting for it to be very colorful.”
“It will be a really, really fun time,” Richardson said.
To learn more about the event, visit facebook.com/celebracionwinchester.