HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) — 22News was at the Fiestas Patronales de Holyoke on Saturday and spoke to business owners, performers, and attendees about why this event is fun and important.
Thousands of people have been coming to Heritage State Park in Holyoke the last few nights for what is a massive celebration of Puerto Rican culture, and Puerto Rican pride is on full display everywhere you look at the park. This is the 2nd annual Fiestas Patronales de Holyoke, also known as an arts and culture fiesta; organizers call this the largest Latin-X outdoor event in the area.
It’s designed to celebrate the diverse culture of the island of Puerto Rico, including its music, clothes, dance, people, and of course the tasty food.
One of the fiesta’s performers, Hector 380 even said that the food is his favorite part, “Eating the food because it’s our tradition our food is good.”
While thousands of Holyoke’s strong Puerto Rican community were there for the fun, not everyone at the event was Puerto Rican. A Holyoke 5th grade public school teacher, who is new to the area and the culture, told 22News that he’s astonished by how bombastic this event is.
“You can’t turn a corner without beautiful music, the smell of delicious food in the air, and just fashion design culture, and art. It’s something else.”
The population of Holyoke is 54 percent Hispanic, a considerable portion of which is of Puerto Rican descent, and this event is just more proof of how vibrant of a community it is. At the Fiestas Patronales, there are tens of vendors ranging from baseball jersey’s to pina coladas and no one was worried about getting caught in the rain on this sunny evening.
The owner of Angles Pina Colada, Yaritza Mejias even traveled all the way from Jacksonville, Florida, and has bumped into customers that she knew when she used to live in Puerto Rico, “It’s made me excited because even I already know people here that I knew back home, that I didn’t know lived here!”
The big fiesta will run through Sunday evening in downtown Holyoke.