Salsa y Salsas: Gathering and reaching out
Appeal Staff Writer
Teaching tolerance and community spirit might not be the mission of a day spent on the green of the Legislative Mall – but the co-mingling of a diverse community during the Salsa y Salsas festival engendering a little more togetherness, may well be the result.
The 11th annual festival to benefit Nevada Hispanic Services, a referral agency for Hispanics in need of help here, turned out more than 1,000 attendees enjoying dollar tacos, native dance and booths featuring information from how to set up a checking account to how domestic violence victims can receive pro bono legal services.
“It’s not that needs in the (Hispanic) community have grown more complex,” said Luis Pierrott, who was on hand to spread word of an the upcoming Latino Community Day at Western Nevada College. “It’s just there is a more sophisticated outlook.
“A gathering like this helps keep the community aware of what they can do – it’s also a good place for family and friends to share their culture.”
If the notion of integration went largely unspoken by the elders attending the festival, it was illustrated with cross-cultural classmates playing on the grass between bands and dancing troupes.
“I wanted to come out here to see my friends,” said Ricky Frewert, 10, of Carson City. “My mom wanted my brother and me to come too, to check some of the exhibits and meet some of the (other) families.”
Students made impromptu parental introductions while waiting for Yerington’s Grupo Tualoc Aztec dance troupe to warm up on the makeshift courtyard stage.
“We wear homemade trajes (suits) and dance with our bare feet so we can be closer to Mother Earth and long feathers to better reach up to the heavens,” said troupe leader Delmar Stevens, who said the group practices twice a week at the Boys & Girls Club in Yerington. “We encourage people of all cultures celebrate and learn the dance.”
The festival didn’t center around food and dance only. Community service groups also drew attention.
Encuentro Matrimonial Mundial, a service group to help provide counseling to local Hispanic couples and families, passed out brochures on an upcoming weekend retreat for married couples.
“Our mission is to help couples and families improve their relationships,” said spokesman Jose Orozco. “Couples here have problems like everyone else. We’re just trying to reach out.”
Outreach was also the goal of the Domestic Violence Victims Assistance Project, said Valerie Clark, an attorney for the group.
“We usually get people calling us after events like this,” she said. “It helps to let people know we’re here for them.”
• Andrew Pridgen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org