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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”