Iowa City unites at the local Latino Festival

Hundreds flocked to the Iowa City ped mall to celebrate the Latin American community on Aug 27.


Krisha Kapoor

This festival began 11 years ago as a way to share Latin American culture.

Krisha Kapoor, Print Co-Editor-In-Chief

The cloudy sky was no match for the energy and love that the Latin American community brought to downtown Iowa City on Saturday. The Iowa City Latino Festival started 11 years ago as a way to celebrate and connect the Latin American community in the Iowa City area. This year, the event ran from 12-9 p.m. and was filled with food from local vendors, handmade art and lots of dancing. 

Manny Galvez is the head organizer of the event and remembers the beginning of the Iowa City Latino Festival. 

“I started to see in big cities they have festivals and gathering, but we didn’t have anything in [Iowa City],” Galvez said. “I started thinking it was necessary to do something for the Latino community. I believe that music, dance, and food are the best way to connect people.”

This event’s purpose is more than just bringing inclusivity to Iowa City but to pass the culture down within the Latino community. 

“This has been a tool to empower the Latino community and to feel proud,” Galvez said. “Before, it was hard to find a safe zone to say ‘this is me.’ I feel proud that we have the opportunity and place to keep our culture alive.” 

The growth of this festival brings joy and honor to Galvez. 

“It started really small many years ago. Now seeing a new [generation], I can tell you this is going to be a thing in 10 or 20 years,” he said. 

As the festival continues to grow, Galvez values keeping its core around the local community. 

“This is local, and we try to keep the spirit and identity. When the people from the area…have the opportunity to meet the stage, they feel like saying, ‘this is my festival,’” he said.

Galvez encourages the Iowa City community to come to cultural events like the Latino Festival. 

“If you come here, you have the opportunity to meet others,” he said. “I ensure that no other community is working so hard to show [that] love is always going to be greater than hate.”