A cultural celebration

Hispanic Heritage Celebration entertains and educates

 Pictured is the finale of the free hour-long performance by the Ninos del Tepeyac. Each dancer wore a colorful costume, reflective of a particular Mexican state’s cultural and heritage.

Saturday afternoon, the IVCCD Orpheum Theater was the place to be to learn about and experience Hispanic cultural, as part of the Hispanic Heritage Celebration, co-sponsored by the Orpheum and the 4th of July Committee.

Festivities kicked-off at 1 p.m. in the Black Box Theater with a free hour-long performance by the Des Moines-based Ninos del Tepeyac, a folkloric dance group consisting of about a dozen youngsters ages five and above.

Each dance was representative of a different Mexican state.

“What we do is teach the Mexican culture through dance,” said the group’s director Beatriz Gallo-Ray. “In each region, the girls have a different hairdo and style of skirt, which would tell you where they are from.”

After the performance, two hands-on cooking demonstrations were taught. First, pupusas were made, with instruction by Marisol Garcia and a bevy of student volunteers.

“We chose to offer pupusas because they’re a popular dish from El Salvador,” Garcia said.

Ingredients were placed on individual tables, whereby participants got to roll the mesa corn flour mixture and stuff if with the seasoned pork filling, then fry it and then add the special spiced cabbage mixture on top.

Afterwards Maria Gomez, owner of Maria’s Tacos, was on hand to demonstrate how to make tamales.

Attendees got to sample their culinary creations. Those who did not participate in the demonstrations were still able to sample plenty of food from various outdoor vendors, including tacos, burritos, sandwiches and more.

Children got to make free arts and craft projects, including Ojo de Dios (a God’s Eye, a ritual magical object and cultural symbol evoking the weaving motif and its spiritual links for the Huichol and Tepehuan Indians of western Mexico, made from yarn and a wooden cross), beaded jewelry, decorative crowns and get their faces painted.

Later in the afternoon, Dr. Richard Salas, a professor of sociology, led an informal and informational panel discussion about different Latino cultural topics.

The festivities concluded with a free musical performance by Las Guitarras de Mexico, a quartet that performs traditional rhythms and ballads. It is classified as the only authentic, traditional Mexican performance group in central Iowa.