Between salsa songs and giveaways for the guests with the best rhythm, Tu Fiesta Radio presented an unforgettable night with their Latin festival Saturday.
The event, “Tu Fiesta Radio Presents: LPT Latin Salsa Orchestra,” took place at the Heartwood Soundstage from 7-11 p.m. and included music by the salsa orchestra from Jacksonville, LPT, and by Elio Piedra, the main radio host, along with two Latin musicians Luis “Torpedo” Aponte and Jorge Tamayo.
The musician trio played for the first hour and a half of the event, and with songs like “Timbalero,” “Aguadile” and “Llorarás,” they led the audience to the middle of the dance floor.
Among the guests was a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary, to which the musicians dedicated the song “Me gusta.” The couple was Yoel Sosa and Jackie Coz, two Cubans celebrating 13 years of marriage at the festival.
“There’s no better place to celebrate it,” Coz said.
Coz and her husband met Piedra at his first events playing in Gainesville and they have been loyal followers of Tu Fiesta Radio since then. The best part of the festivals and events is to see the Latin community enjoying and to listen to Latin music, Coz said.
Sosa said he agrees these events are important to them and he also insisted that there are many more opportunities now to set roots in Gainesville’s Hispanic community.
“The radio was just the beginning, but now there’s space for whoever wants to rise up,” Sosa said.
Luis Aponte, a 64-year-old Puerto Rican, was a singer in Pedro Conga’s orchestra and a choralist for Marvin Santiago, two musicians from his country. He has played with Piedra in multiple events, singing salsa and covers of iconic songs in Latin music.
The best thing about these events is that they feed the network of the Latin community in Gainesville and they introduce new people to the community, Aponte said. The problem, he said, is the lack of promotion for these events.
“All these Hispanic activities would be more interesting if they had more public coverage,” Aponte said.
Vendors and companies that work with the radio to bring resources for the Hispanic community also assisted the festival.
Sisters Narbeliz Espina and Nacelis Molero, who work with AquaWorld Systems, a water purifying company with offices in Gainesville, had a spot promoting their services at the entrance of the festival. Espina said they promote the service of water-purifying systems and have worked with the radio to share their resources during the daily shows.
Molero said she’s glad festivals like the radio ones are surging in the city.
“It’s so nice that Gainesville has this Latin music and sharing space,” Molero said.
Another tent at the entrance had Taíno Roots, a Puerto Rican food vendor owned by two brothers-in-law.
Ivan Perez, 47, the cook and owner of the food stand, said this type of event is what makes his business possible. Perez said the stand usually sells food every Thursday at the farmer’s market and every Monday at Cypress and Grove Brewing.
The food for Taíno Roots is prepared at the Working Food community kitchen, Perez said, and they keep it hot with steamer containers at the events. Perez and his business partner, Michael Vasquez, 36, worked for the first time with the radio at their festival last September.
“This was the first event that marked what I want to do,” Perez said. “For me, it was incredible.”
With live music, food and drinks, the festival attracted crowds inside and outside the Hispanic community.
From now on, the radio will start preparing for its big Latin festival Nov. 11 to close off the year, Piedro said.
Contact Valentina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @valesrc.
Valentina Sandoval is a second-year journalism major and a staff writer for El Caimán. Whenever she's not writing, she's expanding her Animal Crossing island, making Spotify playlists or convincing someone to follow her dog on Instagram.