In addition to celebrating all Latin American countries, this Sunday's 19th annual Festival Hispano will place a special emphasis on Chile.

In addition to celebrating all Latin American countries, this Sunday's 19th annual Festival Hispano will place a special emphasis on Chile.

With an estimated 5,000-plus people expected to attend the festival on Sunday, the event will be be held at the Millsboro Little League Complex. Expect a variety of Hispanic cuisine, a designated children's area with games (starting at 1 p.m.), a costume contest for the best-dressed festivalgoers in Latin American attire (beginning at 1 p.m. in the children's area) and a wealth of rich music and native dances (starting a noon).

A taste of Chile

The Festival Hispano ─ presented by the El Centro Cultural in Georgetown, an organization designed to promote Latin American culture in Delaware ─ will feature traditional folk music and dance groups from different regions of Chile. Grupo Lonquimay will show off classic dances from the northern and southern regions of the country, while Grupo Rumisonko will deliver music from the plateau region. Grupo Haka Nini will introduce snazzy footwork from Easter Island, which belongs to Chile. And Expresiones de Chile will present dances from the center region, including the Chilean traditional dance of cueca, which is an assortment of styles associated with Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

While all the performers are a sight to see, El Centro Cultural President Monica Viana says Expresiones de Chile is the most popular in the lineup. Sunday will mark Expresiones' fourth consecutive show in the festival.

"This group is really professional," said Viana, of Rehoboth. "Many people are just coming to see them."

Viana is particularly proud that Chilean culture will be spotlighted at this year's event since she was born in Chile.

"It was about time we recognized my country of birth," she said.

'An important legacy'

El Centro Cultural started the event in 1995 to expose area residents to traditional music and dances from Latin America. The tradition of holding the event on a Sunday was born out of necessity more than desire. Members of El Centro would've rather held the festival on a different day such as Saturday, but they didn't for fear the event would receive an awfully low attendance since back then a "large population of the Hispanic community worked at chicken plants in the area," said El Centro treasurer Allison Castellanos, of Georgetown.

Today some Hispanics in Sussex County still have factory jobs, but a number of them have since branched out into "working in a lot of different industries" and have become "teachers, nurses, accountants and architects," Castellanos said.

A portion of the aforementioned are second-generation Hispanics from Sussex who used to attend the festival as kids. Now some of them have grown into adults who volunteer at the event, helping to continue the tradition.

"We want this festival to never end," Viana said. "It's such an important legacy."


WHAT 19th annual Festival Hispano

WHEN Noon to 6 p.m., Sunday

WHERE Millsboro Little League Complex, 262 W. State St., Millsboro

COST Free admission

INFO Visit or call (302) 745-6828