Spicy Sunday

The 27th Festival Latino has a new home.

The festival, usually held on the grounds of the Louisiana Center for the Deaf, moves to the State Fairgrounds for Sunday’s festivities.

Maria Rosa Eads, executive director of the Hispanic Apostolate of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, which sponsors the festival, said the closure of the facility for the deaf on Brightside Drive meant the group had to find another event site.

“We had tried a couple of years ago and they’ve didn’t have the date (open for rental), and so it was just a miracle that this time they had it available,” Eads said. “Because we were outgrowing (the former site), and there were problems with the parking and all that. There’s plenty of room for everything, for parking, for food, for everything.”

The “everything” includes booths offering a variety of Latin foods, children’s games, raffles, dancing, arts and crafts, and more. Headlining Mexican singer Diana Reyes will close the afternoon of music, which also features local band Son Mandao. The previously-scheduled Banda Blanca has canceled its appearance, and El Sheriff y su banda La Machuca will take its place.

“They call her (Reyes) ‘queen of the band,’” Eads said. “Her music is from northern Mexico.”

Entertainment will run from noon to 6 p.m., with the morning full of mostly family activities. The volunteers plan to have the food prepared by 10 a.m.

“We’re going to have real fruit shakes,” Eads said of the new addition to the festival menu. “It’s very much in the different cultures. In Mexico, remember, they have places where you just pick your fruit and they make the shakes, sometimes it’s milk, sometimes it’s with just water, whatever fresh fruit you can find. It’s very refreshing and delicious.”

Dilia Martinez, food coordinator, described dishes of south-of-the-border fare, which will be cooked on-site on Sunday. Pupusas from El Salvador, empanadas from Columbia, gallo pinto (beans and rice) from Nicaragua, plantains from Honduras, rice and black beans (congri) from Cuba, tallaries saltados (Peru’s version of lo mein noodles) and more.

“Peru, they bring the seasonings, because they want the real taste of the country. Home is home,” Martinez said.

In addition to the more than 100 volunteers who handle food preparation and sales, there are another 50-100 volunteers throughout the festival grounds. Proceeds benefit the Apostolate, which provides services to Hispanic communities in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, Tangipahoa and West Baton Rouge parishes.