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Chispa of Cheyenne to host annual Hispanic festival, week-long festivities

The Cheyenne Hispanic Festival logo. (Briar Napier/Cap City News)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Cheyenne’s annual Hispanic Festival is a two-day event that honors and recognizes the city’s Hispanic community. This year, the celebration is coming early.

Chispa of Cheyenne, a cultural organization that was previously called the Cheyenne Hispanic Festival, will have free daily activities this week for community members to partake in, including a street taco tasting at Ike’s Bar and Grill and salsa dancing lessons at the Laramie County Library. The main festival events will take place in various locations around the city on Sept. 8 and at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza on Sept. 9.

On Friday, the 2023 festivities will officially kick off at the Wyoming State Museum, where Mayor Patrick Collins will sign a proclamation declaring Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month, which is recognized annually in the U.S. At 7:30 p.m., renowned comedian and festival keynote speaker Cristela Alonzo will perform a stand-up comedy show at the Cheyenne Civic Center. Tickets for Alonzo’s performance can be purchased at CheyennePresents.com.

On Saturday, residents can expect the Depot Plaza to be filled with local Hispanic-owned vendors and businesses, live performances from salsa band Sabor de la Calle and traditional dancers from Las Angelitas Unidas Y Los Rayos del Sol. The festival will also feature information booths from organizations including Healthworks, Juntos and Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education.

While the activities are meant to be entertaining, Chispa chair Jessica Fernandez-Medina hopes participants will take the time to learn more about Hispanic history and culture.

“We want people to enjoy the festival and get to know the different cultures that are here in our community,” she said. “I think people think that there are [only] people from Mexico here, but there’s people from Columbia, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Puerto Rico.”

“Chispa” is a Spanish word that translates to “spark” in English. It also stands for Cheyenne Hispanics Improving Strengthening Powerful Alliance. Fernandez-Medina said board members wanted a name that could better reflect the organization’s mission and purpose.

“Our biggest goal is to continue building relationships around the community and be able to offer [educational opportunities] for them,” she said. “That’s what our community should be. We should be united and together and get to know everybody.”

Chispa of Cheyenne hosts other year-round events, including Cuentos y Amigos, or Spanish Storytimes, at the library. The organization also provides annual scholarships for Hispanic senior students at Cheyenne high schools.

The events for this week are as follows:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 5: Barbacoca Street Tacos, Margaritas and Como la Flor
    • Ike’s Bar and Grill from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 6: Cuentos y Amigos celebrating Hispanic heritage
    • Laramie County Library from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 7: Salsa dance lessons by Ianna Doughty and Oxsanna Garcia
    • Laramie County Library from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 8:
    • Storytime ¿De Dónde Eres? at the Botanic Gardens Paul Smith Children’s Village at 11 a.m.
    • Opening of Hispanic Heritage Month at the Wyoming State Museum at 1 p.m.
    • Cristela Alonzo at the Cheyenne Civic Center at 7:30 p.m.

The itinerary for the Cheyenne Hispanic Festival on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Depot Plaza is as follows:

  • 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Capitol City Club Car Show
  • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: Las Angelitas Unidas Y Los Rayos del Sol
  • 1:30 to 2 p.m.: El Grito contest
  • 2 to 2:30 p.m.: Las Piñatas
  • 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Filo Norteño
  • 4 to 4:30 p.m.: Raffle off Baskets (must be present to win)
  • 5 to 5:30 p.m.: Jalapeño eating contest
  • 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Sabor de la Calle