South of Border Festival booming PDF Print E-mail
Written by By WILL MALONE Sentinel Staff Writer   
Monday, 10 August 2009 10:02

PERRYSBURG - Growing attendance at the South of the Border Festival is taking a community to new heights.
An estimated 7,000 visitors filled the Perrysburg Heights Community Park on Jefferson Street during the increasingly popular annual fundraiser and celebration on Friday and Saturday. As mariachi trumpets pierced though thick harmonies and dance troup members clogged in tandem to quick Spanish beats, families continued to pour through the gates for the promise of the Tex-Mex food and music for which this suburban festival is becoming nationally recognized.
All proceeds from the event - which featured a variety of local and national performers, including the popular band La Sombra as well as Tejano music legend Ruben Vela - will go directly to the Perrysburg Heights Community Center.
Young members of the Perrysburg Heights Boys and Girls Club, who practice at the center, showed off some new steps Saturday while their proud families clapped along.
Monica Gonzalez, of Toledo, cheered on her niece and nephew and became emotional during their first performance. She said her mother, who died a year ago Sunday, was close to the grandchildren and would have loved the chance to watch them perform.

Marissa, 5, and Ruben, 7, started the program this year and practice twice a week. And Ruben, who held onto this belt buckle and he two-stepped, even practices around the house.
"They're really into it," she said.
Many attendees turned out for some of the big names in Tejano music.
David and Luci Brose arrived with their 5-year-old daughter Sofeea to take advantage of a chance to see the 72-year-old Tejano crooner Ruben Vela. And others, such as Joe Velasquez and Richard Serrato, are fans of La Sombra, who were scheduled to appear as part of their reunion tour.
Serrato brought several members of his family to the festival. He said the high attendance, which increases every year, made the affair more enjoyable.
"It's a big get-together," he said. "I like to see everybody, all the Latin-Americans here, seeing that we have a whole bunch of people around. I like being here."
The festival provided a valuable outreach opportunity for service organization in the area which sought to build relationships in the Heights community.
The brand-new International School of English Education made its debut at the festival Friday, announcing September registration for women's language classes.
"The neat thing with us is that all of our teachers are women," said Annie Georgia, of ISEE. "So it's just women teaching women."
The program will offer classes on conversation, newspapers and reading and writing for a nominal fee. The organization also offers on-site childcare for children 5 and under.
George said she wanted to start such a program, which will meet at Alliance Church on Avenue Road, because of a growing need for such services in the Perrysburg area.
"We have noticed in Perrysburg the demographics have changed quite a bit in the last few years because of a lot of new companies that are moving in," she said. "We  have seen a lot of internationals come through. And also, even in the Spanish community, we've seen an increase in population."
Bowling Green State University and Adalante, a Toledo non-profit service organization for Latinos, introduced a tutoring program in the Heights for the first time this summer.
Ruben Viramontez Anguiano, an associate professor in BGSU's Family and Consumer Sciences department, said six of his students partnered with the Perrysburg Heights Community Association and Adalante tutors to work with children in the community.
"It was a win-win situation, because my students got to work with children from diverse backgrounds," he said. "But, at the same time, the kids had licensed teachers."
Adalante registered 160 Heights children for the program, which wraps up at the end of the week, said Isaac Oehrtman, an Adalante youth specialist.
Anita Serda, the festival coordinator, said the PHCA counted an estimated 15 percent more people on Friday attended than last year. On Saturday, ticket sales were keeping pace with the 3,000-4,000 sold at that time a year ago.
At the end of the festival, the PHCA hopes to collect $20,000 for operational expenses and for a few new projects such as an expanded parking area and a community playground. The group would also like to collaborate with Perrysburg Schools to offer parents the opportunity to track their students' grades via new computers that could be purchased with some of the festival revenues.
Serda said the PHCA hopes the festival continues to grow so that the group can continue developing new partnerships to provide new opportunities that will empower the community.
"The way to do that is to develop that communication," Serda said.

 

 

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