HOLA Lakeway threw a little party for the Morristown community Friday night.
The inaugural Party On Peavine was a showcase of Latino food and culture, but it was a teaser for the main event, the fifth-annual International Festival on Aug. 31 at the Rose Center.
The event was replete with food vendors, music from several bands, including local act Papa Chung and child dancers dressed as senior citizens called Viejitos.
“The purpose of the party was to let people know what we’re doing in the community,” HOLA Lakeway co-director Betsy Hurst said. “It was a taste of what’s going to happen (next month.)”
“(Party On Peavine) was an opener event to get people to come to the International Festival,” HOLA Lakeway president K.C. Alvarado said. “Everyone who showed up had a good time.
“We appreciate everyone who attended.”
The event, originally scheduled for June 5, was moved to Friday night because of inclement weather in the area. Despite this, HOLA Lakeway was also pleased by the attendance on a holiday weekend, when many people leave the area to celebrate Fourth of July weekend elsewhere.
“This was our first time doing this. I think it went very well. It was good to see people come and enjoy (Party On Peavine) with their family and friends,” Hurst said. “Everyone who showed up had a good time. We appreciate everyone who attended.”
“We had about 400 attend,” Alvarado said. “We didn’t have as many vendors (this time around).
“It was a small event, but I think it went well.”
Alvarado continued the upcoming International Festival will contain more than just Latino food and culture.
“In past years, we had just Latino food,” she said. “But we wanted to show how diverse Morristown is and highlight the other cultures we have (in the city) and their food.”
A portion of the proceeds from Party on Peavine went to support HOLA Lakeway programs, including a language institute with English and Spanish classes. Also, the organization holds cultural competency training to better understand the increasing Hispanic population in Morristown and the surrounding areas, and business strategies to boost innovation from Latino entrepreneurs..
“We have a lot of people coming from Guatemala, and (cultural competency training) is used to help educators better understand the cultural differences these people bring,” Alvarado said. “We teach the customs along with family structure and the head of the households.”
HOLA Lakeway’s primary goal is to teach the community other culture’s values and ideals can benefit the community as a whole, not the sum of its collective parts. Alvarado cited her example as an African-American woman married to a Hispanic man.
“We don’t want assimilation. We want acculturation, more diversity and understanding,” she said. “Assimilation is a melting pot. Acculturation is the appreciation of other cultures.
“It’s more a chopped salad than a melting pot.”