DES MOINES, Iowa -- Now in its 16th year, the Latino Heritage Festival in downtown Des Moines celebrates the culture and diversity of different Latino communities in this state. Visitors say there is a lot to learn at the festival about each unique community.
“If you ask, 'so tell me about this dish and how is it prepared and what does this color in your flag mean?' They will tell you, so I love that," Marshalltown resident Armando Torres said.
The Latino Heritage Festival said there are 22 Latin countries represented in Iowa and about 174,000 Latinos living in the state.
The festival highlights the food, music, dance and arts from various Central and South American countries.
This year, the festival was also a platform for politicians with booths for Democratic presidential candidates such as Julián Castro, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.
Saturday morning, Tulsi Gabbard spoke to a small crowd at the Latino Forum Soapbox. That afternoon, Kamala Harris’ campaign manager, Juan Rodriguez, spoke at the soapbox.
One visitor said the fact that these presidential candidates are at the festival shows that they care about core issues Latino families face every day.
“Are my family members OK? Are they going to receive medical treatment? Can they stay here? Are they going to be able to go to college? All these issues fall into that big scope," Torres said.
Sunday, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro will be at the Latino Heritage Festival campaigning for his brother, Julián Castro. He will be speaking at 1 p.m. at the Latino Forum Soapbox.