KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — East Tennessee is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with events 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. observance is 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:

La Líder 93.5FM – all month

East Tennessee’s only Spanish-language radio station is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by playing music by artists from Hispanic and Latino countries.

La Líder, which is based in Lenoir City, prides itself in offering “the most popular tropical Billboard Hot Latin songs, top Mexican Region music, CHR top adult hits, Sports, News, Live Interviews, Giveaways, Public Announcements, Non-profit and Sponsorships spots.”

Latino Awards Gala (in-person) – Sept. 15

Centro Hispano de East Tennessee announced in June its annual Latino Awards Gala is happening Thursday, Sept. 15 at The Mill & Mine in the Old City. 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 – Sept. 24

  • This year’s Mountain Fiesta is happening Saturday, Sept. 24 in Cumberland Gap. Usually, the fiesta (which is Spanish for “party”).
  • “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 group dropped its festival performance lineup earlier this month
  • The 5th annual Mountain Fiesta is happening Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. in Cumberland Gap.

The Salsa Party – Oct. 7

Salsa and Buchata instructors Waldo y Jacqui are hosting “The Salsa Party” on Friday, Oct. 7 at The Embassy Suites by Hilton in West Knoxville.

“We are so proud that hundreds of people have been attending this event, and word is spreading fast! If you are looking for the most upscale venue hosting the best Salsa dancers, performances djs, music, instructors, and drinks in the area, this is your place!”

Tickets are available here.

HoLa Festival – Oct. 8-9

  • HoLa Hora Latina’s 22nd annual HoLa Festival is happening this year Oct. 8-9 at World’s Fair Park
  • The festival begins Saturday, Oct. 8 at 4-10 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.
  • The full festival lineup and parking information can be found here.

Pellissippi State Community College – Hispanic Heritage Month Events

  • Monday, Sept. 19

Explanation of New Workforce Expansion Law
6 p.m. via Zoom
Luis Mata, policy coordinator of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and TIRRC Votes, will discuss how this law allows some immigrants to obtain trade licenses.

  • Wednesday, Sept. 21

Roundtable discussion with Latino students, staff and faculty
2 p.m. Hardin Valley Campus,
Goins Building Cafeteria Annex (GN 151a)

  • Friday, Sept. 23

Presentation on “Day of the Dead” exhibit
2 p.m. University of Tennessee McClung Museum via Zoom (Click Here to View)
Curator of Academic Programs Katy Malone will lead this tour

  • Wednesday, Sept. 28

Band: Candela, with Hispanic food
Noon-2 p.m. Hardin Valley Campus Courtyard

  • Wednesday, Oct. 5

American Culture is Hispanic Culture
Noon, Strawberry Plains Campus and via Zoom.
Instructor Nathan Widener

  • Thursday, Oct. 6

Understanding U.S. Immigration Policies in the Past and Present
3:30-4:30 p.m. and via Zoom
Presented by De Ann Pendry, Distinguished Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

  • Thursday, Oct. 13

Film: “Critical Thinking”
The film will run throughout the day at the Magnolia Avenue Campus
Based on a true story from 1998, five Latino and Black teenagers from the toughest underserved ghetto in Miami fight their way into the National Chess Championship under the guidance of their unconventional but inspirational teacher.

Music Faculty Recital: ¡Celebremos el mes de la Hispanidad!
7 p.m. Hardin Valley Campus, Clayton Performing Arts Center