Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival will award 12 students with academic scholarships and reward three Latino business people for their successes at this year’s festival.

“One of the founding principles of the festival is to honor and support our youth,” said Joe Gonzalez, the executive director of Latino Resources Inc., the umbrella organization that oversees the festival.

This year’s scholarship recipients are: Cindy Delgado Parra, Iowa State University; Karen Delgado, Iowa State University; Brenda Guzman Linworth, Grandview University; Isabela Flores, University of Iowa; Yariel Salinas Reyes, Iowa State University; Jissel Gomez Torres, Iowa State University; Alexa Pinos, Grandview University; Diana Valdez Pillado, Grandview University; Derly Beacom, Grandview University; Leslie Leanos, Des Moines Area Community College; Assua Phongsavanh, Iowa State University; and Stephanie Ornelas Salazar, Grandview University.

Each will receive a $1,000 academic scholarship to further his or her education. Six of the scholarships will be given by sponsors, one from Gonzalez, and five from Latino Resources Inc.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 28 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 29 at Western Gateway Park. About 13,600 people attended the two-day event last year. It features folkloric dancers, martial arts performers, a children’s area, booths about the countries represented at the festival and more.

Festival organizers also will honor three individuals with the Latino Achievement Award to recognize them for their successes:

  •      Gumaro De Avila, who is being recognized for community service in assisting at his church, and helping many schools with translating. De Avila is involved and volunteers with the Clive Historical Society, Clive Community Service, Free clinics in Clive, for the West Des Moines School District, and for Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival.
  •      Blanca Placensia, the co-owner of El Fogon. She was listed by the Iowa Restaurant Association as one of the top 40 “Women to Watch” in hospitality in Iowa.
  •      Antonio Rodriguez-Mireles, a Golden Gloves national champion at super heavyweight. He was the first Iowan to ever win the super heavyweight class and is the first Iowa national champion in the past 15 years. Antonio was invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs by USA Boxing and spent the summer there training with other boxing champions. This was a great honor given only to the best up-and-coming boxers.

The theme for this year’s event is “Colorful Traditions de Iowa.” The festival’s civic engagement tent will host a candidate soapbox for presidential candidates who pre-register to speak to festival attendees.

The Empowerment Zone will showcase jobs that are in need of workers and provide Latinos with information they need about those jobs. It will include information from sponsor Des Moines Area Community College about the training the school provides to support Future Ready Iowa, an initiative to grow Iowa’s talent pipeline.

The Iowa Department of Transportation’s motorhome will be available for attendees to renew their driver’s license or receive a duplicate for a lost license.  

This year there is a new activity: Upon entrance into the festival, each family or group will receive a passport card that they will take to various areas of the festival for a stamp. After the card is completed, they can enter into a drawing for a prize. Drawings will take place every few hours during the festival.

Cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for children 12 and younger.

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