Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival September 26-27


When JoAnn Mackey started the Latino Heritage Festival 15 years ago, she did not imagine that it will grow into one of the most attended festivals in Iowa. Now people from all over the state of Iowa come to Des Moines to enjoy this fun cultural event. This year Latino Heritage Festival will be September 26 and 27 on the Walnut and Locust Street bridges in downtown Des Moines, IA.


For former Des Moines Police Lt. Joe Gonzalez this is his first year taking over the organization of the event. Although he had been on the board of this event for 15 years, he admits that being involved in the organization of the event is a lot harder then he thought.

“Always many things to do,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “We want to try to continue to grow from regional to state. We want more people to come,” he added.


For this year’s event participants can expect a lot of fun things.  The main point of the festival is to showcase the culture and provide a learning experience to attendees. According Mr. Gonzalez they try to represent all 22 countries of Latin America.

“About 9 or 10 will be there and those who cannot be there will have tables representing their countries,” Mr. Gonzalez shares.

When it comes to entertainment expect a lot of great music. A Mariachi band will delight the public with its traditional music. If rancheras is not really your thing, and you want something that will make you want to move, then wait for merengue, bachata and salsa.  Also calling out to all those who enjoy rock en español, as there will be bands playing this kind of music during the Latino Heritage Festival.


Besides the diverse great music, participants will be able to enjoy traditional regional Mexican dances performed by different people. In the Brazilian section there will be performances of Brazilian dances and capoeira. Also, there will be lucha libre.

The Latino Heritage Festival is a family event. Besides learning about different cultures, children will have tons fun also. There will be jumping houses, art tent where children can make some crafts and pony rides.  In addition, for the two days of the festival every hour children will have a chance to break a piñata.


New this year for the Iowa Latino Heritage Festival is the Health Village. The Health Village will be on Saturday September 26 from 10 AM to 3 PM. During this part of the Latino Heritage Festival different health organizations will be sharing information about issues that affect Latinos. Also, participants will have a chance to find out their blood type through simple blood test. After the Health Village, Civic Engagement Tent will be open for those who are interested in learning more about exercising their right to vote.

Another important part of this festival is the Art tent. This year’s the art tent will have a display of works done by different Army veterans and young Latinos.


And of course what kind festival will this be without food? There will be a lot of very delicious food for sale at the Latino Heritage Festival. Participants will be able to taste anything from burritos and tacos to pupusas and even Puerto Rican food.

The Iowa Latino Heritage Festival is a great event for the whole family to enjoy.

“We want people to travel to Des Moines and enjoy,” Mr. Gonzalez said.

Get your family together and come to Latino Heritage Festival on September 26 and 27 on the Walnut and Locust streets bridges in downtown Des Moines.

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