Inaugural Fiesta Lawrence planned at the cultural campus of Fort Ben • Current editions

The city of Lawrence has set up a new event aimed at its Latin American population. Fiesta Lawrence will be presented from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on April 30 at the Fort Ben Cultural Campus, 8920 Otis Ave.

Damaris Iraheta

Damaris Iraheta, the city’s communications director for Latin American affairs, said more than 15% of Lawrence’s population is Latino.

“Lawrence has a very large Latino community, and it’s growing over time. So, of course, we want to meet the needs of our community and have a presentation for our community,” Iraheta said. “Why not celebrate all of the Latino cultures in Lawrence and bring everyone together to share the culture and also educate the Latino community that we have in Lawrence?”

Originally, a Cinco de Mayo celebration was planned. But Iraheta and Deputy Chief of Staff Cori Korn wanted to include all 21 Latin American nations rather than just those celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Thus, Fiesta Lawrence was created.

The free event will feature entertainment, including a musical performance by students from the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, as well as resources, vendors, crafts, activities and food trucks.

Cori Korn

“Really, the event is about celebrating and sharing with our Latin American cultures in Lawrence,” Korn said. “It’s really just a day of fun activities celebrating Latino cultures and sharing information.”

The Indiana Historical Society will be on hand with an exhibit showcasing Latino heritage in the Indianapolis area. Participants will have the opportunity to play Loteria, a Latin American card game similar to bingo, from. 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Grupo Bembe will play live music from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Iraheta began her role in January. Its objective is to publicize the city’s services to the Latin American community. She also works to offer city permits and applications in Spanish for Spanish speakers and to create events like Fiesta Lawrence to meet the needs of the Latin American community. She said she is the liaison between the Latino community and the town of Lawrence.

Korn said she Fiesta Lawrence had three goals.

“One is to celebrate our community and build it by bringing it together,” she said. “Another goal is to really help educate our community about all of our diversity and share those cultures within the community. And then the third is to provide all the connections to the different organizations.

Fiesta Lawrence will offer activities and resources on April 30 to celebrate the 21 nations of Latin America and Lawrence’s growing Latin American population.

Iraheta said another of his goals is to eventually create a visitor center for the town of Lawrence. Ideally, she said he would be housed at the Government Center at 9001 E. 56th St.

“We have a very diverse community and we want to be able to provide basic information and resources to our citizens,” Iraheta said. “So with a reception center we would be able to guide those coming in in case they needed help in any way possible. While we can’t provide help in town, we want to be able to provide resources or guides where you can go to find the things you’re looking for.

“We want to be as welcoming as possible and just (be) a safe space for resources like a pantry or education or pretty much anything.”

To learn more, visit visitlawrenceindiana.com.

Celebrating 21 Latino cultures

To celebrate 21 Latino cultures at Fiesta Lawrence, Deputy Chief of Staff Cori Korn said there will be booths with activities such as identifying Latino flags. Among other activities, she said attendees will be able to make maracas and free churros will be available.

“In addition to the activities, we want it to be educational,” Korn said. “So the kids can get a bingo card and go from one region to another to get information about the crops, then hand it over to the town tent. We’ll be raffling off prizes and things like that to reinforce learning about different cultures.

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