PEORIA, Ill. – It’s that time of year again where Hispanic culture flourishes on full display on the Peoria Riverfront.
The city is getting ready for its 14th annual Fiesta en el Río celebration this weekend. The event celebrates both the Hispanic culture and recognizes the city’s growing Hispanic population.
It’s the first of several cultural festivals slated to take place on the Riverfront this summer, including the River City Soul Fest and the Peoria Irish Fest, both in August.
Organizers with the Peoria Park District said they’re looking to outdo themselves for the festival with fewer restrictions this year, but keeping it a safe experience at the same time.
“We weren’t able to have this last year and I really think people are looking forward to bringing their families out and having a good time,” Brittany Moldenhauer, coordinator of administration & digital media with the Peoria Park District, said.
She said the family aspect will be a big part of this year’s celebration.
“There’s a kid’s area and there will be face painting, and a petting zoo, and bounce houses,” Moldenhauer said. “But also booths for services, you know what kind of things are there in Peoria that can be of service to the Hispanic people that live, work, and play in Peoria.”
Organizers said there will also be salsa classes, live bands, including music from the Mambo All-Stars, a performance from the Peoria Folklore Ballet, and more food vendors than at any of the festival’s previous events.
“It’s just a real fiesta, like a real party,” Moldenhauer said.
Christell Frausto, chair of the Greater Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the fiesta is also a chance to invite the community as a whole to experience Hispanic customs up close and personal.
“We want to have a blend of different flavors for people and to celebrate and embrace our differences and our cultures, preserve them also,” Frausto said.
She said she encourages all to come out and enjoy
“You might pick up on something you didn’t know you liked,” Frausto said.
The event goes on from 5 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. Saturday on the Peoria Riverfront. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door, and kids 12-years-old and under can get in for free.