Every year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans who trace their ancestors from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Hispanic Heritage Week began under President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and was expanded under President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to encompass a 30-day period. It was enacted into law on Aug.17, 1988.

Sept. 15 is chosen as the start date because of its significance as the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept.16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

The Hispanic population is the largest racial minority in the U.S., comprising roughly 50.5 million (about 16.3 percent of the total U.S. population).

U.S. Census Bureau data projects that the Hispanic population, as of July 1, 2050, will be 132.8 million, or 30 percent of the total U.S. population.

According to the census data, it was a 43 percent increase from April 1, 2000, to April 1, 2010, making Hispanics the fastest growing minority group in the U.S.

The Chamber of Hispanic Affairs in Gainesville cordially invites you to our most notable program, known as the annual Downtown Latino Festival, which takes place at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza downtown every September during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The family friendly celebration attracts vendors and community members from all over north Florida.

The purpose of the festival is to celebrate the positive contributions and achievements of the Latino community. It is a chance for Gainesville to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with the Chamber of Hispanic Affairs.

We also strive to connect the Hispanic population and the greater community to resources such as health awareness, disease testing, non-profits and community resources.

Attendance at the festival has usually been between 600 and 2,000 people every year.

The event consists of food vendors, informational booths, cultural performances and live music.

The festival is free and open to the public.

We cordially invite the entire community to enjoy this community celebration.

For more info on the Hispanic-Latino U.S. population visit http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/pdf/cb11ff-18_hispanic.pdf

If you would like more information on the festival please email [email protected].

David J. Ruiz

Director, 10th-Annual Downtown Latino Festival

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