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5 things you can't miss at the Hispanic Heritage Festival

Get ready for dancing, food and fun at the Hispanic Heritage Festival. The event celebrates its 18th year from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 at RiverScape MetroPark.

Yvonne Bravo Wathen, an organizer of the PACO (Puerto Rican, American and Caribbean Organization of Dayton) and Five Rivers MetroParks festival, said plenty of fun will be had. 

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The 17th annual Dayton Hispanic Heritage Festival took place on Saturday, Sept. 16 at RiverScape MetroPark in downtown Dayton. The Puerto Rican, American and Caribbean Organization (PACO) family-friendly event included a parade, food, drinks and live music representing several countries. TOM GILLIAM / STAFF (Tom Gilliam)

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“The (hispanic) community is growing in Dayton and we feel it is important for people to know how much Hispanics do for the community,” she said. 

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The free event is packed with food from several hispanic cultures, a parade featuring costumed groups, an expanded children’s area as well as music and dance all day. 

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“This is not just for Hispanics. This is for the (entire) community to enjoy the different facets of the Hispanic culture,” Wathen said. “We are really focused on that giving back to the community.” 

Partly due to the draw of jobs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton’s Hispanic community is one among the most highly educated Hispanic communities in the state, Wathen said. 

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The 17th annual Dayton Hispanic Heritage Festival took place on Saturday, Sept. 16 at RiverScape MetroPark in downtown Dayton. The Puerto Rican, American and Caribbean Organization (PACO) family-friendly event included a parade, food, drinks and live music representing several countries. TOM GILLIAM / STAFF (Tom Gilliam)

The festival, a fundraiser that pays for PACO scholarships and outreach at the holidays, was formed by local residents with roots in Columbia, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico and other Spanish-speaking countries.

Wathen said they wanted to share and educate about the diversity in Hispanic culture. 

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"The one thing they have in common is the language,” she said. “They have different food; they have different dancing.” 

DON'T MISS THIS STUFF 👇

🎶 The music 

Throughout the day, DJ-ed and live music will fill the air with traditional, lively sounds. Artists including Al Son De Iya, Rika Swing and headliner Hot Enchiladas (Santana tribute band) will keep you on your soles.  

💃 Let’s dance 
Dance troupes including Orgullo Mecicano to Qué Lindo Es Panamá, to Rondalla Puerto Rico and a few others will get you in the groove with their authentic dance routines inspired by Mexican, Panamanian and Puerto Rican traditions. 

👦👧 Children's area 
Grown ups don’t have all the fun at this festival. A children’s area will be set up to keep the niños and niñas muy contento.

😋 The food 
Bring a full belly because El Meson, La Colombiana Restaurante, Latinarepas, Panadería Oaxaqueña, La Costeñita Dayton and many more will be on site. Eats from Peru, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Mexico and other counties will be sold. 

🤸 The parade
Nineteen groups will march. The parade starts at Second and Jefferson streets.

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