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'Latino Fiesta' brings music and food to Scranton

DJs played music for festival goers at the all-ages NEPA Latino Fiesta at Nay Aug Park on Saturday.
Tom Riese
DJs played music for festival goers at the all-ages NEPA Latino Fiesta at Nay Aug Park on Saturday.

Organizers and food vendors say a Latino heritage festival in Scranton was a success.

Music rang out as DJs played bomba, reggaeton, merengue and salsa from a stage at the north end of Nay Aug Park on Saturday.

The first-ever NEPA Latino Fiesta brought out food stands and trucks, dozens of local craft sellers and traditional performers, all organized by six women from the Giving Back to the Community Group.

Organizer Elizabeth Rodriguez, whose family is Puerto Rican, talked to festival goers as they took in the afternoon scene. Many thanked her and said they were glad the region has a new way to celebrate the diverse Latino population. Whether they’re Peruvians, Colombians or Mexicans, Latinos make up a sizable population in northeast Pa., she said.

“And next year, yes, we’re going for round two,” Rodriguez said. The festival also raised money for an all-inclusive playground set for Nay Aug Park.

Entrepreneur Ashley Tapia wishes she brought even more to sell. The crowd devoured the food at her pop-up, Los Antojitos Mexican Cravings, a project she started earlier this summer.

“We actually sold out of our birria tacos, we sold out of our corn, mangoes, chorizo… spicy chicken as well. The only thing that’s left is the pupusas,” Tapia said. She specializes in traditional Mexican food, but she also likes to prepare Salvadoran pupusas with fried pork.

“It’s been a great turnout,” Tapia added. “I’m so happy that the community is supporting us, which is what we wanted – everyone to come out to have fun with their friends and family. And that is exactly what happened today.”

Organizers thanked the Scranton Recreation Authority and the many sponsors for believing in them while they planned. It was their first event of this size, Rodriguez said, and she looks forward to welcoming more people next year.

Tom Riese is a multimedia reporter and the local host for NPR's Morning Edition. He comes to NEPA by way of Philadelphia. He is a York County native who studied journalism at Temple University.