Carnaval in Highlands celebrates Hispanic community

The International Friendship Center brought Carnaval to Highlands earlier this fall and Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park was bustling with activity in celebration of Hispanic heritage.

Carnaval at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park in Highlands in celebration of Hispanic community and culture in late September.

“I think it went very well,” said IFC Executive Director and event organizer TJ Smith. “It accomplished what we wanted it to, and that was to bring all of the communities of the plateau together in celebration of our Hispanic community.”

Music and dance were a big part of Carnaval in Highlands, and you didn’t need a dance floor to cut a rug.

Smith estimated about 450 people attended the festivities that included traditional Hispanic music, food and dancing with multiple live performances from a variety of performers highlighting Hispanic culture.

Several local community organizations participated including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina, Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau, The Community Care Clinic of Highlands-Cashiers, Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library, La Alianza, The 30th Collective, Unidxs WNC, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, NC Medicaid, WCU LASO, and Pisgah Legal Services.

Several local organizations participated and set up tents at Carnaval to share information and resources.

Smith said the participating organizations were there to show their support for the IFC and the Hispanic community, and to share information and resources based on their various roles on the Plateau.

Live performers included the Mexican folk-dance crew Zochiquetzalli, the Ritmo Latino Y Cultural NC Dance Crew, representing Hondouras, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Their leader, Iris Longinos, led the crowd in salsa dance lessons towards the end of the evening. 

Members of the Ritmo Latino Y Cultural NC Dance Crew, representing Hondouras, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

Smith said he appreciated and is grateful for everyone who helped bring Carnaval to Highlands.

“I want to thank all of those named above, all of our artists who attended and shared their works with the festival, the Town of Highlands for allowing us to host the celebration at Kelsey-Hutchinson, and especially want to thank Lester Norris for helping us to get everything together.”

Members of the Mexican folk-dance crew Zochiquetzalli performing at Carnaval in Highlands. Also pictured at the top of the article.

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Towards the end of the evening the crowd was treated to salsa dance lessons.

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