The Iowa City Latino Festival returns to the Ped Mall on Saturday

Iowa City Latino Festival

Ped Mall -- Saturday, Aug. 28, noon to 9 p.m.

Courtesy of Iowa City Latino Festival/El Truque

Iowa City Latino Festival is returning, after a year off due to the pandemic. This year’s festival kicks off on the Ped Mall at noon on Saturday.

“We are excited to come back,” Manny Galvez, the festival’s founder and organizer, told Little Village. “We started the festival 10 years ago, but we had to cancel it last year because of COVID, so this is ninth edition of the festival.”

As usual, the family-friendly festival will feature numerous special performances, from bands and dance troupes to a clown and Spanish-language story-time.

Noon Opening

12:10 p.m. Clown

1:00 p.m. Luchadores Story Time

1:30 p.m. Clown

2:00 p.m. Chinelos from Minnesota – Comparsa Zapata

3:00 p.m. Salsa Class with Sunset Salsa

4:00 p.m. Chinelos from Minnesota – Comparsa Zapata

4:45 p.m. Corazón Latino – Mexican Folkloric Dancers

5:00 p.m. Duo Calle Sur – Edgar East (Panamá) Karin Stein (Colombia)

6:00 p.m. Matachines.

6:45 p.m. Viejitos de Michoacán

7:00 p.m. Award ceremony

7:15 p.m. Corazón Latino – Mexican Folkloric Dancers

7:30 p.m. Loquera Show – Mexican regional Band

8:00 p.m. Norily – Selena Tribute

8:20 p.m. Loquera Show Mexican regional Band

8:55 p.m. Closing with Sunset Salsa

As in previous years, there will be plenty of food with different types of Mexican cuisine, as well as traditional dishes from Venezuela, Guatemala and El Salvador.

New to this year’s festival is the Latino Community Service Award, which is intended to honor people who have helped to build the Latino community in the Iowa City area. The award’s first recipient will be Guadalupe Nuñez, who works a hospital interpreter. Honoring Nuñez is particularly meaningful to festival organizers, because she has been a volunteer coordinating traditional dance group performances for the Iowa City Latino Festival since 2015.

“People know this event is only possible because many volunteers have been working so hard,” Galvez said. “We want to tell people that because of her, because of Guadalupe, working so hard for months in advance, this festival happens.”

This year’s festival will also have a new emphasis on connecting people with local nonprofits working with members of the Latino community. Fifteen nonprofits will be participating in the festival, according to Galvez.

Of course, COVID-19 is still spreading, and organizers are taking precautions. Staff will be wearing masks, and organizers are asking attendees to also mask up. The festival has partnered with the Iowa City Downtown District to provide hand-sanitizer stations on the Ped Mall.

Johnson County Public Health will also be participating in this year’s festival, providing information about vaccines and encouraging people to get vaccinated.

The 2021 Iowa City Latino Festival, noon to 9 p.m. on the Ped Mall, is free and open to the public.

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