Locals’ five senses were tingling as colorful clothing, tasty treats, tons of vendors, mouth-watering smells, and vibrant music dominated downtown Knoxville. The 19th annual HoLa Festival was a two-day party celebrated on September 29th from 4 to 10pm and September 30th from 2:15 to 6pm. Both days offered locals plenty of entertainment, shopping, and food. The large crowds flooding the area was proof the festival continues every year to be a success in celebrating and educating on Hispanic culture.
“….grab a partner and move to the Latin grooves.”
The president of the HoLa Hora Latina and organizer of the festival, Pedro Tomấs, told Knoxnews that Saturday alone had over 4,000 people packed in Market Square dancing and singing to the music. He said, “It was the biggest Saturday night we’ve had…” A contribution to this success was also the charismatic MC of the night, Andy Maldonavo. A man with a loud voice and cool shades, he kept the crowd excited and awake the majority of the night. Coupled with some amazing musical acts and beautiful ballroom dancers from Salsa Knox, it encouraged many people, experienced or not, to grab a partner and move to the Latin grooves.
To kick off the second day Market Square had representatives from numerous countries hold a parade. This was a chance to see more of the traditional clothing worn in Hispanic culture. Sunday was also more of a kid-friendly environment too with acts like a puppet show and a lively ventriloquist. Located on the corner outside of Urban Outfitters there was also a chance to hear a street performer playing the steel drum. He was willing to take requests and could play a variety of different songs from “Under the Sea” to a more traditional Caribbean beat.
The HoLa Festival is a key foundation of the HoLa Hora Latina organization and does a great job educating the public and showing the influences of Hispanic culture in the US. If you loved the festival or missed out on the fun, continue to support the organization through their other cultural and educational programs they offer throughout the year. It is an excellent way to keep celebrating the US’s National Hispanic Heritage Month!
Want to support HoLa Hore?
Visit their website:
Visit their headquarters:
100 block of S. Gay Street at the Historical Emporium Building