Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in East Tennessee: Why, where, how

Hispanic Heritage Month

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennessee is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with events both in-person and online in order to share the histories, cultures and contributions of residents whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Why to celebrate

The observation of celebrating Hispanic and Latinx Americans and residents actually began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson but was later expanded by President Ronald Regan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period that begins Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.

The U.S. observes it split across two months because Sept. 15 is a key date in the history of several Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua declared independence from Spain on Sept. 15, 1821. Mexico’s independence from Spain is celebrated annually on Sept. 16. Chile’s independence day is on Sept. 18 and Belize’s independence day is on Sept. 21.

Where, how to celebrate

This year in East Tennessee, there are several events that occur during National Hispanic Heritage Month. Here’s where and how to celebrate:

HoLa Festival – Sept. 25 + 26

  • HoLa Hora Latina’s annual HoLa Festival is happening this year Sept. 25-26 at World’s Fair Park.
  • The festival begins Saturday, Sept. 25 at 4-10 p.m. with a Fiesta Latina — live music, dancing, draft beer, and food and artisan craft vendors. A fireworks display will begin at 9 p.m. The celebration continues Sunday afternoon from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with more live music and performances, homecooked food and cold drinks, crafts, HoLa’s Parade of Nations, 20+ Hispanic heritage booths and educational children’s activities, and community resources. A $1 donation will be required by each person 12 years and up to enter the Festival. Current HoLa Hora Latina members have free entry.

Latino Awards Gala (virtual) – Sept. 30

Centro Hispano de East Tennessee announced in June its annual Latino Awards Gala would be a virtual event for the second year in a row. The event will be held virtually on Sept. 30 at noon. It serves as the largest annual fundraiser event for the nonprofit.

Leaders say the highly anticipated event is a cross-cultural experience that brings the Greater Knoxville community together to recognize Latinos, Latinas and community allies working to support the Latino and Hispanic community in East Tennessee.

Mountain Fiesta – Oct. 2

  • This year’s Mountain Fiesta is happening Saturday, Oct. 2 in Cumberland Gap. Usually, the fiesta (which is Spanish for “party”) occurred in April, but organizers said earlier this year they were waiting a little longer for the event so people could gather safely.
  • “The event is a celebration of the richness and uniqueness of Latin America, set in the heart of Cumberland Gap, and a chance to appreciate the similarities and differences between songs, dances, foods, and traditions.”
  • The 4.5th annual Mountain Fiesta is happening Saturday, Oct. 2 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at 601 Colwyn Ave, Cumberland Gap, TN 37724

Pellissippi State Community College hosting several events
(in-person & virtual)

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, Pellissippi State is hosting a series of events to “celebrate the rich and beautiful complexity of Latino and Hispanic culture at Pellissippi State as we recognize the importance of their contributions to our community and the world.” Below is the posted schedule of events; Zoom and email links are available here.

Wednesday, Sept. 15: 6 p.m.
Book club with Spanish Associate Professor Wendy Bennett-Turner and History Adjunct Instructor Alison Vick

Thursday, Sept 16: 6-7:30 p.m.
“Why Don’t People Just Wait in Line?”
A role-play workshop about how and why people seek life in the U.S. Co-presented by Luis Mata, Pellissippi State alumna and Associate Professor Katie Morris

Tuesday, Sept. 21: 2 p.m.
“Crime Shows and Latino Representation on TV”
Assistant Professor Mauricio Espinoza from the University of Cincinnati

Thursday, Sept. 23: 1-3 p.m.
LIVE MUSIC: Kukuly Uriarte and her band Candela in the Hardin Valley Campus Courtyard. Yummy refreshments available.

Tuesday, Sept. 28: 6 p.m.
“Don’t Take My Boy: Yellow Journalism and the Zoot-Suit Riots of 1943”
History Instructor Leslie Coffman

Wednesday, Sept. 29: 6 p.m.
Book club with Spanish Associate Professor Wendy Bennett-Turner and History Adjunct Instructor Alison Vick

Tuesday, Oct. 5: 6-6:45 p.m.
“Connecting Campus and Community Using Spanish-Language Conversation Tables”
Adjunct Instructor Raúl Rivero and colleagues

Thursday, Oct. 7: 6 p.m.
Videos: Latino and Hispanic Pellissippi State students and staff share their stories

UTK Office of Multicultural Student Life hosting several events
(in-person & virtual)

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s Office of Multicultural Student Life has posted on its calendar page a series of events that will occur during Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month. Below is the list:

Vol Avenida
Help us kick-off Hispanic Latinx Heritage Month with Vol Avenida (Avenue)! This celebration will feature booths from Latin-identifying student organizations. Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at Freison Black Cultural Center, Outdoor Plaza

Latinxs in Hollywood: Spy Kids Movie Night
Join MSL for an outdoor movie night featuring Spy Kids, one of the most popular family films and one of the first American movies centered on a Latinx family. Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. at Fred D. Brown Jr. Residence Hall, Outdoor Plaza

The Symbol of El Sol: Paint Night
The icon of El Sol is prominent in some Latin American flags, decorations, and traditions. Attendees will learn about its significance and symbolism. Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. at Freison Black Cultural Center, Outdoor Plaza

Virtual student discussion groups with author Gabby Rivera on Thursday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

WATE’s coverage and celebration of the Hispanic and Latinx community in East Tennessee is an eye-opening and exciting experience for our viewers, as well as a perfect opportunity for local businesses, nonprofits, organizations and education services to align with a positive news series.

Don’t miss our upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month Special on Sunday, Oct. 10 at 5:30 p.m.

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