Heartland residents embrace Mexican culture during Latino Fest
OTTUMWA, IOWA —
On the 300 block of Main Street, in downtown Ottumwa, Heartland residents are getting the chance to embrace Latino culture in a different way during the Latino Festival, hosted by Market on Main Street.
Antonio Contreras was one of the vendors at the festival. He attends many festivals like this around Iowa, selling Mexican souvenirs and toys.
‘We try to bring a part of Mexico down here, pretty much. So, the new generations can know about it from us,” said Contreras.
Attendees didn’t just have to learn about Mexico through vendor stands and food. The festival also included live performances and dances, one of them being through a Minnesota group called Quetzal. They specialize in Aztec dances, an indigenous Mexican group.
To play the part, you need to look the part. Dancer Jose Alvillar says each regalia represents who they are.
“I have an odone here which represents balance, which is kind of like my doñal, which is kind of like a horoscope.”
Alvillar says being able to take part in this Aztec dance means a lot to him.
“It represents who I am, it’s a part of my identity. And, it allows me to go back to my indigenous roots to decolonize in a way,” Alvillar said.