Hispanic heritage has had an impactful influence over the past 300 years in shaping what New Orleans is today. Our culture reflects this heritage, from the Spanish who took over from the French and rebuilt the city between the mid-1700s and early 1800s to the Hispanic people, specifically from Latin America, who came to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina (again, to help rebuild the city). Based on this influence, Hispanic heritage and culture can be seen throughout the city from the 300 year-old architecture to the new wave of food establishments around the city. Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15) is the perfect time to pause and reflect on those contributions. Here’s how we’re celebrating.
Like every food we celebrate in New Orleans, such as the creole tomato, oyster, and fried chicken, the time has come to pay homage to Latin America’s baleada through a festival on Sunday, September 16. I mean, what better way to celebrate a thick, handmade tortilla smothered in beans and protein than with a day full of food sampling and dancing to live music? Visit the festival at Rivertown Heritage Park in Kenner on September 16 from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The outdoor family festival is an extension of the television show “¿Que Pasa New Orleans?” on Telemundo 42 to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The festival, which takes place October 4-7 at the Al Copeland Meadow Concert area in Lafreniere Park in Metairie, features live music, dancing, food, arts and crafts, community outreach opportunities, and a children’s area. In honor of the city’s Tricentennial, this year’s installment will highlight the contributions of Latinos to the city of New Orleans.
On Sunday, October 7, Celebracion Latina presented by Pan American Life Insurance Group will offer an authentic festival for one day at The Audubon Zoo featuring children’s activities, live music, and cuisine sold by local restaurants. The event is held from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is free with zoo admission and to Audubon Institute Members. Festival chairs and blankets are welcome.
Hosted by The Hispanic American Musicians and Artists Cultural Association (H.A.M.A.C.A.), Carnaval Latino honors the Latin American culture in New Orleans through music, art, and food from October 13-15. This year’s event will take place at Generation’s Hall with the Krewe of Quetzal kicking off the festivities in a New Orleans-style parade called “Desfile de Las Americas” on Saturday, October 13.
5. Azucar Ball
Azucar Ball is the premier fundraiser gala for the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to cultivate Hispanic heritage through a local scholarship program. This year’s Azucar Ball will be held Saturday, December 1, 2018 at The Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown. You can snag early discounted tickets on Thursday, September 27 at Latin Night at Johnny Sanchez from 9 p.m.-12 a.m.
6. Enjoy Latin cuisine in New Orleans
Most recently, the city has seen a surge of Hispanic restaurants throughout the entire Greater New Orleans area. All are worth trying. Here are a few to kick off your food tour, as suggested by @eatenpathnola: Meat pies from Norma’s Bakery (2925 Bienville St.), traditional Dominican breakfast from Mangu (2112 Belle Chase Hwy), Vegetarian Chile Relleno from El Pavo Real (4401 S. Broad Ave.), Colombian corn from Mais Arepas (1200 Carondelet) and Mojo Pork on fried plantain from Paloma Café (800 Louisa St.).
7. Get your dance on
While Hispanic Heritage Month only stretches from September 15 – October 15, one can still get his or her heritage fix on a monthly or even weekly basis through some dancing. Check out Latin Night at Rock’n’Bowl every Tuesday night, Salsa Society at Eiffel on Wednesdays, and Club Sanchez at Johnny Sanchez (with a late night happy hour) on the last Thursday of every month, in addition to many more recurring events that include dancing workshops and live music. Check NOLA Fleaux on Facebook for all upcoming events this month.
8. Get involved
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage means more than just enjoying a thick tortilla with beans or dancing salsa into the early morning. There are several ways to learn more and get involved to support the community. A few organizations that do this include the Hispanic Young Professionals of Louisiana (HYPLA), The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HCCL), and The New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Getting involved through these organizations is a great way to meet other people in the community, learn about their businesses, attend events, and support Hispanic heritage year-round.