Latin America Comes to Downtown Cary

Look no further than downtown Cary this weekend for a mini vacation to Latin America, where a day of concerts, dancing, food, a free soccer clinic and more will transport you straight to the shores of Mexico and Brazil.

This Saturday will mark Diamante Inc.’s 12th year celebrating North Carolina’s vibrant Hispanic culture through Ritmo Latino, a colorful festival that brings the heritage, flavor and sounds of Latin America to downtown Cary. The free, family oriented event will feature live music, vendors, artists, international cuisine and activities for children of all ages.

Diamante Inc. is a Cary-based nonprofit that recognizes the achievements and contributions of Latinos in North Carolina and is dedicated to preserving, developing and promoting Hispanic heritage.

“It’s creating awareness in a fun environment,” said David Flores, president of Diamante, of Ritmo Latino’s goal. “Cary is much more fortunate than a lot of cities in North Carolina in that we have such a diverse population naturally. So the key is how we integrate the various communities. If you look at the Asian population, the Indian population, the Latino population, they have much more in common than people think.”

Soccer Clinic Too

These cultural similarities and differences will be celebrated throughout the day through the festival’s showcase of Latino culture, music and arts. Flores says some of the food and culture celebrated goes beyond just South America to include elements from Ecuador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Brazil, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

“You can get a flavor of all these different countries; although it’s all Latin American, there is a wide range of tastes depending on each country you choose to try. Or try them all!” said Flores.

In addition to nine music performances, 17 folkloric dance performances, a day full of fun on the kids’ stage – which includes arts and crafts, face painting, and a karate and judo demonstration – and six different visual artists, Ritmo Latino will also feature a soccer clinic from 11 a.m. to noon, with registration at 10:30 a.m.

Flores says one of his favorite parts about Ritmo Latino is the continued partnership Diamante and the Latino community in general has built with the town of Cary.

“Cary is a very welcoming community, being proactively part of this regeneration of the population of the United States. It’s always an interesting question whether it’s a proactive or reactive process of integration, and what I think is happening in Cary is that because it starts from an open environment, it makes it easier for groups who naturally might have concern of acceptance. Word gets out that it is a welcoming community, so it continues to expand.”

Last year’s festival saw more than 7,000 participants enjoy the fun. Each year’s festival sees new groups from different countries so participants are able to enjoy the festival again and again.

“It’s a really fun day,” Flores said. “There are over 100 booths so you get a lot of diversity in products, businesses and things from different countries people can experience."

Admission and parking are free at Ritmo Latino, although Flores suggests bringing cash in case some food vendors don’t accept credit cards. Parking will be in the Town Hall parking deck on North Academy Street, with police and Diamante volunteers directing traffic.

Ritmo Latino

Saturday, May 14

Noon to 6:30 p.m.

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