Myriad Latin-American communities came together to kick off Hispanic Heritage month at the Ogden Hispanic Festival on Sept. 15.

LUPEC (Latinos United Promoting Education and Civic Engagement), a nonprofit organization, hosted the event. LUPEC’s mission is to empower the Latino community by making them active members of society through education.

The theme for this year’s festival was civic engagement and culture, the path to education and success. Held at the Ogden Union Station, the event included booths that provided information on how the community could get more involved. Ogden City diversity, AARP, WSU Community Education Center and the Women League of Voters were among the organizations engaging attendees.

“It’s important for the Latinos who live here that we unite ourselves, that we give each other strength,” Ogden resident Cruz Palacios said.

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People attending the Hispanic Festival in downtown Ogden watching children perform songs. (Sarah Catan / The Signpost)

The festival was not exclusively intended to educate the community, however. On the north end of the Union, flags from every Hispanic country led guests to a stage where a live band performed.

Mariachi Águilas de la Esperanza, a mariachi group run by students and faculty at Esperanza Elementary in West Valley, provided music for the crowds and a front man engaging the audience.

Yahaira Cortez, WSU sophomore, volunteer, was interested in what the festival had to offer and said attendees were very united.

Sandra Rodriguez brought her daughters Genesis, 11, and Roxana, 8. They had never been to the festival and wanted to get together with fellow Hispanics to celebrate their culture. It was important to Rodriguez to instill a sense of Hispanic pride in her daughters.

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Booths line the walls at the Hispanic Festival in downtown Ogden. (Sarah Catan / The Signpost)

In a time when many Latinos feel alienated and targeted by political affairs and the current administration, residents found that it was important to band together and create tradition within the Ogden Latino community.

Veronica Zepeda recently moved to Ogden from New York. She attended the festival with her husband and three daughters to rally with the Ogden Hispanic community.

“We Hispanics are worth a lot, and I think we deserve a lot of respect from all people,” Zepeda said. “With a president like this, I think we shouldn’t just value Hispanics, but human beings.”

This is the third Ogden Hispanic Festival. According to Census.gov, 31.8 percent of people in Ogden are of Hispanic or Latino origin as of July 2017. Weber County has the second-highest Latino concentration in the state of Utah.

“(My hope for the future of Ogden is that) they don’t forget about us, and they keep us in consideration,” Zepeda said.

Sept. 15 marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage month, a time to honor Hispanics who have influenced and contributed to the U.S. For more information, visit https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/

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