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Hispanic Heritage Festival Nears

Second annual Hispanic Festival set to add some color and spice to Town Green Oct. 2.

The second annual Cox Hispanic Heritage Festival is preparing to add some Latin flair to the Town Green this weekend.

Scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2, from 1 until 6 p.m. the Cox Communications-sponsored event is anticipated to be larger and draw more attendees this weekend compared to its inaugural year, said Alex Horowitz, of Cox Communications' media relations.

The festival is free and proceeds from sponsor as well as vendor fees will be donated to the Hispanic Committee, a nonprofit agency that supports the Hispanic Community in Fairfax County.

"We recognized that there was really no festival in Northern Virginia that celebrated the Hispanic culture," said Horowitz about the creation of the event. "This is a win-win situation because it gives folks in the Hispanic community a chance to get out and celebrate their heritage."

During last year's festival, 3,000 people attended the event at the town green, he said. The festival raised $8,000, which was donated to the Hispanic Committee.

This year festival planners are anticipating more people to attend because of a step up in promotional efforts. The festival has aired commercials on television, handed out flyers around the community and is also using co-sponsor El Zol 99.1 FM to advertise the event via radio.

In addition to offering a chance for members of the Hispanic community to celebrate their heritage, the festival also welcomes all members of the community to participate in the many family-friendly activities.

Highlights of this year's festival include a mix of food and live music that has Latin American and Hispanic flavor. Bands scheduled to perform include Zenia All Star, Eclipse and Mike y Pity.

Popular television networks are also scheduled to operate booths during the festival including TV Chile, Univision, Galavision, Telemundo, ESPN Desportes, Discovery, MTV/VHUno, Fox Sports, HBO and Sopresa.

THE COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS of Herndon will also participate in the event as a partner through its offering of the children's art area, said Maureen Ryan, executive director.

Much like the arts and crafts table the arts council runs during the Herndon Festival, five or six different activities are scheduled to operate during the Hispanic Heritage Festival, she said.

"Last year we had about 600 kids come through," said Ryan. "This year we are anticipating about 1,000, so we're definitely going to need volunteers."

Like the food and music, the arts and crafts are also planned to showcase a Hispanic flare. Arts council members researched different crafts and decided on offering a chance for children to make Mexican paper flowers, paper plate maracas — the originals are made out of hollowed gourds and are used as a musical instrument — paper bag ponchos and also piñatas, said Ryan.

And of course, there will be a face-painting and temporary-tattoo booth — always a favorite at every festival, she said.

"Last year was a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to this year's event," said Ryan, adding she's most excited to see how the dance contest turns out.

"I will not be participating in the dance contest," she joked, "I will be a spectator."

Dance With Me Studios will also be offering demonstrations throughout the day so citizens wanting to learn how to do more than salsa can see how it is done. The dancers will also offer a chance for residents to participate in a salsa contest. The first round of competition will be for advanced dancers and the second round for the amateurs.

Members of the Herndon High School Spanish Club have offered their services to help during the festival, but volunteers are still needed, said Ryan. People wishing to participate in either the arts and crafts or the festival as a whole can sign up by calling the Council for the Arts of Herndon at 703-689-9535.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," said Ryan. "A lot of planning had been put into this, so I hope people will come out and participate."