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Tonali, a dance performance group also reffered to as Tonali Danza Folklorica Mexicana, performs at at Latinx Fest on Washington Street between Pulaski and Hull on Oct. 13, 2018. A group of women and men danced a traditional dance before finishing out their show with a performance from a young boy.

LatinxFest, held during Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrates the cultures of Central and South America through food, dancing and singing. 

The mission of the festival is to recognize the economic and cultural contributions of the local Latinx — the gender-neutral term — community, which comprises 10.7% of the Athens-Clarke County population, according to the U.S. Cenus Bureau. 

“One thing we really strive for is to create a space where Latinx folks feel welcome and feel safe, like they are part of the community,” said Audey Lee, development specialist of LatinxFest.

The schedule features live salsa music, Aztecan dancing, a mariachi band and a block party, said Beto Mendoza, founder and director of LatinxFest. There will be new performers and the festival will begin with a memorial service for the victims of the attack in El Paso, Texas on Aug. 3. 

LatinxFest began in 2010 and is organized by Dignidad Imnmigrante en Athens, an activist group working for immigrants’ rights. 

Last year was LatinxFest’s first street festival. In previous years, the event was held at local venues such as Creature Comforts in 2017. 

“We started doing the festival in different communities because we wanted the people ... to have the opportunity to be a part of our organization,” Mendoza said. 

Established in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month begins on Sept. 15 and celebrates the independence of five Latin American countries, according to the Hispanic Heritage Month website.  

Mendoza said 500-600 people attended the 2017 event, and last year’s festival reached about 1,500-2,000 attendees.

“It’s expanded to actually making the same footprint as PRIDE,” Lee said. “I expect it to be bigger and better than ever.”

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