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Latino Coalition highlights cultural diversity 

click to enlarge "A Comer" boasted a variety of performers, framed by a backdrop of flags from Spanish-speaking countries across the globe. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • "A Comer" boasted a variety of performers, framed by a backdrop of flags from Spanish-speaking countries across the globe.
  • Annie Quigley

Brightly colored dresses and intoxicating aromas permeated the banquet room. Young dancers waited outside the celebration, giggling as they practiced their steps. Dozens of chefs unveiled their contributions and excited guests filed in.

The Latino Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence held a food festival and luncheon Friday at the downtown Sheraton Hotel. The event, dubbed "A Comer," acted as both a fundraiser for the organization and a celebration of culture and diversity in Indiana's Latino community.

All funds raised at the luncheon went toward the Latino Coalition's mission to provide services to victims of domestic and sexual violence.

While the cause may have been serious, the festival was lively.

click to enlarge Performers showcased talents ranging from traditional dance to weaving. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • Performers showcased talents ranging from traditional dance to weaving.
  • Annie Quigley

At the luncheon, guests were able to visit a variety of food tables, each offering mouthwatering cuisine from one of the 22 Spanish-speaking countries represented in Indianapolis.

Many tables were spearheaded by chefs from local restaurants, who donated selections from their menus to the fundraiser.

While people walked around the venue tasting the assorted food, they were entertained by performers doing everything from "waist-weaving," an indigenous Latin art form, to traditional dance. The performances were, like the food, representative of the diversity within the Latino population. A song praising Puerto Rico was followed by traditional native dances from the Latin nations of South America.

While speaking in support of embracing culture, tradition, and diversity, participants put their pride on display. The celebration of Latin history included everything from a lecture on Latino Nobel Prize winners to an homage to author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

click to enlarge Guests wandered the room, tasting cuisine from Latin nations across the globe. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • Guests wandered the room, tasting cuisine from Latin nations across the globe.
  • Annie Quigley

Interspersed with the vibrant performances were speakers, who came to offer their thanks and support to the Latino Coalition and its mission.

Presenters included Marion County Treasurer Claudia Fuentes as well as representatives for Rep. Andre Carson and Mayor Ballard.

Various speakers expressed their belief in the power of Indiana's Latino community as an economic and political force. The diverse community was referred to consistently as a vital part of the fabric of Indiana.

In addition to their praise for the Latino community, speakers thanked the numerous organizations that made the event possible, from local businesses to community hospitals.

"A Comer" was a community affair. Hundreds of Indiana Latinos came together in support of the Latino Coalition, offering food, performance, clothing and art in order to celebrate the diverse community for a good cause.

click to enlarge Local artists showcased their work, drawing from various Latin cultures. - ANNIE QUIGLEY
  • Local artists showcased their work, drawing from various Latin cultures.
  • Annie Quigley

The event served to bring together the diverse community of Latinos in Indiana and highlight the vast array of individual talents and traditions. Culture is something incredible that must not be lost, and "A Comer" sought to celebrate everything the distinct Latin cultures have to offer Indiana.

The Latino Coalition will continue to focus on the elimination of domestic abuse and sexual violence, holding their next conference October 9.

The representative from Carson's team perhaps summed up the purpose of the event best in her closing remarks, saying "We do better when we work together."

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