Festival Celebrates Independence for Connecticut's Peruvians


By Arantxa Fetta

July may be synonymous with independence for Americans, but it carries the same meaning for Peruvians as well.

This month, Peru celebrates its 192nd anniversary of independence from Spain and in Connecticut, the state’s Peruvian community commemorated the occasion during its 4th Annual Peruvian Festival of Connecticut at Bushnell Park. Festival organizers said last weekend’s festival was an opportunity to share the country’s unique culture with the rest of the state.
Leslie Diaz, a West Hartford resident who attended the event, said the festival serves as an important point of pride for Connecticut’s Peruvians.”I think this event was a reminder of the strength of our community and the importance of celebrating our culture,” she said. “I feel proud to be Peruvian and this event shows me I’m not alone.”
Nearly 40,000 Peruvians call Connecticut home, and according to organizer Luis Changanqui, he was motivated to bring Peru’s culture and traditions to the foreground because he felt the community needed to step up their presence. With more than 40,000 Peruvians living in Connecticut, the preservation of the community’s culture is a necessity, he said.
Changanaqui organized the first Peruvian festival in Connecticut back in 2010 and his company, Millennium Productions, has been in charge of the festival ever since.
Even if only for one day, the scent of pollada drifting through the festival, the folklore told through the dance routines of Estampas Folkloricas, and the songs of Trio Los Morunos transformed the park and paid homage to age-old Peruvian tradition. 
Angela Silva, a producer for Millennium Productions, which coordinates the event said, “We have such an amazing country, our people are happy and amicable, and our food is delicious!” She also remarked that this festival is a great opportunity to share Peruvian culture with other communities.

This is Silva’s first time organizing the Peruvian Festival, and she said that the process has been a long one. Organizers have worked hard to bring great Peruvian and local artists, she said. Bareto and Inca Son, Sabor Latino, Alex “El Biscochito” and “la Nena de la Bachata”  are just a few acts Silva was able to feature during the festival.

In the past,  the festival was held at closed venues and there was an entrance fee ranging between $20 to $30. However, Silva has since worked with PromPeru, a Peruvian governmental agency which functions to promote the country’s exportable goods, services and tourism, to have the festival open to the public in an effort to gather a larger crowd of more diverse people.
Last year 3,000 people attended the festival. This year, attendance nearly doubled with more than 5,000 people joining in throughout the day, she said.
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