Knoxville's Hola Festival showcases growing Hispanic population

Knoxville's Hola Festival showcases growing Hispanic population

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Knoxville hosted the 13th annual Hola Festival in downtown Knoxville. Knoxville hosted the 13th annual Hola Festival in downtown Knoxville.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The annual Hola Festival was held Saturday in downtown Knoxville. For thirteen years, the festival has been exposing people here in East Tennessee to Hispanic culture.

Festival organizers say despite the cold and overcast day, thousands of people came out to enjoy dance, food and music. 

"They have been exposed to Tango music," said stage manager Melissa Minor. "They've been exposed to Peruvian music."

Many people might be unaware that Tennessee has the third fastest growing Hispanic population in the country. Every county in the state has Hispanic people living there.

When the Hola Festival first started there were only about 200 people attending. This year they anticipate more than 20,000.

Organizers of the festival say they really want this event to be educational. They still feel many people are unaware of the Hispanic population in Tennessee.

"We want people to come together," said Hola Hora Latina President Angela Mesini, "Take pride in their heritage, and to share it with our community... share it with the community of Knoxville that's been so good to all of us."

"The reason we do this... we just want people to get out of their comfort zone," said Minor. "They need to expose themselves to something different. We have a very big Hispanic community in Knoxville."

The festival was free to attend, and attracts people from all different kinds of backgrounds.

"It's 50/50," said Mesini, "That's the really good thing. Even though it's a Hispanic festival, we do it to create links with the Hispanics and the community."

So as the Hispanic community continues to grow, organizers hope the festival will continue to be a place to bring the community together.

The Hola Festival is part of a month long series of events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

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