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Amid the blaring, pulsating music and the delectable aromas hanging in the air, deciding between dancing and eating was a tough choice.
Of course, there was plenty of time for both.
FirstEnergy Stadium played host to the third annual Berks Latin Fest on Saturday afternoon. The event aims to highlight the various Hispanic cultures present in Reading and the surrounding county.
“We want to celebrate the Latin culture, the Hispanic culture,” said Aida Sanchez, one of the event’s organizers. “We want people to experience what it is like to be Hispanic — the music, the food, the dancing.”
The event — which organizers expected to draw about 7,000 visitors — featured more than 40 vendors spread throughout the stadium’s concourse, surrounding the main stage where four DJs took turns churning out Latin music. The food stands represented different Spanish-speaking countries and territories, ranging from Colombia to Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic to Mexico.
Steven Stuleanic said that he was thrilled with all of it.
“I’m not Hispanic, but I grew up in Reading and all of my neighbors, all of my friends were Hispanic,” he said. “I love the music, I love the people.”
Stuleanic, who mentioned he has Romanian heritage, said he was particularly interested in trying out some of the food at the event.
“Everything here is so good,” he said, adding that he had his eye on some Puerto Rican cuisine. “The food is all from scratch, it’s the best food you can get.”
Angel Aponte said he came out to the event because he thought it was a great way to bridge gaps between the different Latin cultures that exist in Reading.
“It’s great to see something that brings our cultures together,” he said. “It’s something positive. I always like to see more of everyone’s heritage.”
Orlando Valencia, owner of the Colombian restaurant El Calvo, likewise said he liked that the event provided a place where everyone could share a little bit of who they are and what they’re all about.
“It’s a very good idea because it’s the best way to put all the cultures from the different countries together,” he said. “We can be together and do a good job together.”
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