303 W. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Sidebar: I decided to attend on Sunday (free parking at the meters). Everyone else must have had the same idea. There wasn’t a meter available in close proximity to Genoa Park. I parked further down West Broad Street for free. Nothing happened; but going forward, I will just pay the $10 to park in the lots west of COSI (Center of Science and Industry).
What is your claim to fame?
I’m Ani Palacios. I have won 10 times at the Latino book awards. I promote Latino writers who write originally in Spanish. Not translations, original Spanish. I promote a lot of undiscovered talent. Today, I’m at Festival Latino selling my books. Check me out on Facebook or Amazon. I have different themes and genres. I move around from immigration, to mystery, to unconditional love. I love to explore our culture and put it in my books. My characters can be from Argentina, Peru, Mexico, etc. Typically, my characters travel. When I do that research, I learn a lot.
Tell me about your books.
I have been living here 2 years. Spanish is my first language. Portuguese is my second language and English is my third language. All the characters are birds. The idea is to teach values to children. For example, the first story is an ostrich who only has one leg. He dreams of going to the lagoon. A pony helps him. My books are bilingual (Spanish/English). My goal is to reach a child who speaks English because they are born here whose parents speak Spanish. Parents can help the children read in Spanish and they then can read in English.
Sidebar: I didn’t know that the spelling of names may be different in different languages. Lorena told me she couldn’t tell me how to spell her name in English. She had the English spelling of her name on her business card. Lorena apologized for her English not being so good. I had no problem understanding what she was saying. English, as her third language, is much better than my version of Spanish after taking 2 years of Spanish in high school many moons ago.
Tell me about Dress for Success.
Dress for Success Columbus is a non-profit organization that provides young ladies and women with attire and services for work readiness (getting back into the workforce or starting off in the work force). We go as young as high school. We are trying to get the high school girls ready for their internships and their first jobs. We have women to women networking, professional and women’s group, and weekly workshops on Fridays on different topics. Different organizations come in. The career center is open for clients. We have computers, tutorials, mock interviews, and resume’ services. You can become a client by starting off with the suiting appointment. If you are looking for a job, we provide interview attire, head to toe. Once you get your job, you come back in for a full week’s wardrobe, head to toe.
We have volunteer opportunities and we rely heavily on donors.
What if you are plus size and already have a job, can you come in and get some clothes?
Absolutely. Lane Bryant is one of our biggest sponsors and partners.
I was joking. I was trying to determine if receiving clothing is need based.
There are no income guidelines. Some women need a wardrobe enhancement. Sometimes full time pay doesn’t stretch to wardrobe enhancement. We are here to provide services for women that are in need.
Where are you located?
We are located at the corner of Fifth and High at 1204 N, High Street. Parking is a little tough due to construction. There are three parking spots reserved in the back of the building.
We have two major fundraisers. The one that is coming up is Beyond the Suit luncheon, September 27. Tickets are available now. Ticket sales are through the website, www.dfscmh.org. 100% of the proceeds stay with Dress for Success. If you want to volunteer, you can fill out an application and there is an orientation that you have to complete.
I did the entire interview before someone pointed at the poster. I interviewed a Mifflin High School Alumni who I had the pleasure of coaching basketball for one year. It is great to see a Mifflin graduate pursuing their purpose and helping others.
Why are you out here doing what you are doing?
I was hired by Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) to make balloon animals for all of the cool kids.
What the what. If you are not a cool kid are you saying you can’t get a balloon?
They are all cool kids.
Interview with Edison Diaz.
You look like you are living it up. Tell me what you do and how long you have been doing it and why you do it.
We have been doing this for 24 years. The first time here was back in 1995. The salsa group that started this was Tito Puente and Selia Cruz. Everybody is a big family. People come from all over Ohio and some people come from Philadelphia. We play the congas until they kick us out. There are two police officers who always take care of us and at the end, they play the congas with us. This is all about family. Even though I might not see someone the entire year, it is 100 % that I will see them here at the Latino Festival. It is all about having fun, being with the community, drinking, eating, playing, etc.
Are you primarily from one place or all Latinos?
All Latinos. We have people from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Cuba, etc. Even Asian people come over here and have fun. We welcome everyone. If you don’t know anything about our culture, come., and we will educate you. People fear what they don’t understand. Ask us. All Latino people are not drug dealers. All Latino people are not illegal immigrants. We are a group of people who love people. We may be loud, but we are positive and love having fun.
Interview with Waleska Dejesus
I save the place. Everybody knows where to come to have fun and be with their family. We welcome new people with open arms. They have fun and then they become part of the family.
Sidebar: This group was enjoying themselves! I thought they might be a paid group to add percussion to the performers. I loved their vibe. Once in the section, you can feel the connection.
Interview with Elaina Hernandez.
Tell me about your group.
We do Mexican folkloric dancing. We are from Toledo Ohio. Mexico is just like the United States. It is made up of 31 states and one federal district. Each state has its own style of music, costume, and dancing. We did dances from 4 different states today, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Colima, and Jalisco.
We are a not for profit youth group. All of our classes are free to anyone who wants to learn how to dance. Our classes are held in Toledo, Ohio. We dance all around Ohio. We recently went to Walt Disney World. We have danced in Chicago, California, and West Virginia. We dance different places showing people the beauty and charm of Mexico.
My take: This festival was well attended. It was crowded. People were in the shade, walking by the vendors, sitting and listening to the music, dancing, etc. Thus far, this has been the highest attendance that I have viewed at Genoa Park on a Sunday or even Saturday. It appeared that everyone was in chill mode. People were supporting the festival, not only with their presence, but with the money, buying food, drinks, etc… I had a blast.