Celebration of cultures: Inaugural Fiesta Lawrence planned at Fort Ben Cultural Campus

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The City of Lawrence has established a new event catering to its Latino population. Fiesta Lawrence will be presented from 1 to 5 p.m. April 30 at the Fort Ben Cultural Campus, 8920 Otis Ave. 

Damaris Iraheta

Damaris Iraheta, the city’s manager of communications for Latino affairs, said more than 15 percent of Lawrence’s population is Latino. 

“Lawrence does have a very big Latino community, and it’s growing over time. So, of course we want to cater to our community and have a presentation for our community,” Iraheta said. “Why not celebrate all of the Latino cultures in Lawrence and bring everyone together to share culture and also bring awareness to the Latino community we do have in Lawrence?”

Originally, a Cinco de Mayo celebration was planned. But Iraheta and Deputy Chief of Staff Cori Korn wanted to include all 21 Latino nations rather than only the ones that celebrate Cinco de Mayo. So, Fiesta Lawrence was created. 

The free event will feature entertainment, including a musical performance by Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township students, along with resources, vendors, crafts, activities and food trucks.

Cori Korn

“Really, the event is to celebrate and share with our Latino cultures in Lawrence,” Korn said. “It’s really just a day of fun activities celebrating Latino cultures and sharing information.”

The Indiana Historical Society will be on-site with a display showcasing Latino heritage in the Indianapolis area. Attendees will have the opportunity to play Loteria, a Latin American card game similar to bingo, from. 3 to 3:30 p.m.

Grupo Bembe will perform live music from 3:30 to 5 p.m. 

Iraheta started in role in January. Her goal is to raise awareness of city services to the Latino community. She also is working on offering city permits and applications in Spanish for Spanish speakers and creating events like Fiesta Lawrence to cater to the Latino community. She said she is the liaison between the Latino community and the City of Lawrence. 

Korn said she Fiesta Lawrence has three goals. 

“One is to celebrate our community and build the community by bringing it together,” she said. “Another goal is to really help educate our community about all our diversity and share those cultures amongst the community. And then the third is to provide all the connections to the different organizations.”

Fiesta Lawrence will provide activities and resources April 30 to celebrate the 21 Latin American nations and Lawrence’s growing Latino population.

Iraheta said another of her goals is to evenually create a welcome center for the City of Lawrence. Ideally, she said it would be housed in Government Center at 9001 E. 56th St. 

“We have a very diverse community, and we want to be able to provide basic information and resources to our citizens,” Iraheta said. “So, with a welcome center, we would be able to guide those who come in in case they need assistance in any way possible. Even if we can’t provide the help in the city, we want to be able to provide resources or guides to where you can go to find those things you’re looking for. 

“We want to be as welcoming as possible and just (be) a safe space for resources like a food pantry or education or just about anything.” 

For more, visit visitlawrenceindiana.com.

Celebrating 21 Latino cultures 

To celebrate all 21 Latino cultures at Fiesta Lawrence, Deputy Chief of Staff Cori Korn said there will be booths with activities such as identifying the Latino flags. Among other activities, she said attendees can make maracas and free churros will be available.

“In addition to the activities, we do want it to be educational,” Korn said. “So, children can get a bingo card and go from area to area to get facts about the cultures and then turn that in at the city’s tent. We will do a drawing for prizes and that kind of stuff to reinforce the learning of the different cultures.”

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