Brad Byrd In-Depth: Abraham Brown Previews Fiesta Evansville

The 4th Annual Fiesta Evansville is Saturday, October 7, and Sunday, October 8, at Goebel Sports Park. 

It's a celebration of the city's Hispanic Heritage Month and international diversity featuring music, dancing, and authentic food from not just Latino cultures, but many cultures from around the world.

Brad Byrd talks with the organizer of Fiesta Evansville, Abraham Brown, about what people can expect from this year's festival and how it has grown over the years. 

Transcript of interview:

Brad Byrd: "And welcome to In-Depth. This weekend is the 4th Annual Fiesta Evansville. It's the city's hispanic heritage month and international diversity celebration featuring music, salsa dancing and authentic food. I'm joined tonight by Abraham Brown, the organizer for Fiesta Evansville. Welcome, Abraham. Good to see you tonight. I know you're very excited about this event. But you have quite an incredible story to share. Started out in California, went to Texas. How in Heaven's name did you end up in Evansville?"

Abraham Brown: "I was lucky to work for a company in southern Texas, Sitestem Systems. Through that company, they invited me to come to Henderson, Kentucky to work for them and I fell in love with the area. After three years working for the company, the company decided to close and do something different. When I was packing everything to move back to Texas, there was an opportunity for me to stay here. And, I got a dream job, those jobs that you are paid for something that you like to do. And I was hired by the Diocese of Evansville to work with Latino Ministry. And that's just the beginning of the story of a wonderful 13 years in the area."

Brad Byrd: "And you call this area a very welcoming community. You're basically a citizen of the Tri-State."

Abraham Brown: "Yes, that's true. Ever since I came to the area, I found people that wanted to know about more where I came from, they were super welcoming. Everything on both sides of the river was positive and not just for me, but for thousands of latinos that are making their home."

Brad Byrd: "And this festival coming up this weekend out at Goebel Sports Park, this is just not celebrating the Latino heritage here in the Evansville area, but this has grown dramatically in the four years since it began."

Abraham Brown: "Yes, it all started actually five years ago. We were at the latino advisory board with Mayor Winnecke and we were talking about a possibility to celebrate the latinos coming to the area. The Latinos making community here in the area. And that's when immediately the idea to start Fiesta Evansville started. It was not until the following year that is got created into the first festival. We thought if we can get 400 people coming to the festival, it's gonna be a big success. We're gonna be celebrating our culture, sharing our food, music, everything. Well, little did we know we got a very good response, and 1,200 people showed up. Second year, we though if we could keep those 1,200 coming, it's going to be a big success. Well, 3,000 came on our second year. And just last year, we had 6,000 people come in to Fiesta Evansville." 

Brad Byrd: "And when we talk about this particular festival, this is not just a celebration of the Latino, there heritage, the culture, you're so passionate about. But this brings people from so many cultures together." 

Abraham Brown: "That's true. After our second festival, we started getting people from other countries that are immigrants in the area asking if they could participate in our festival. Then we got the Marshallesse community setting up a cultural booth, the Russian community. Now this year, we've got different cults, and now we're going to be featuring Ireland, Japan, China, Spain, and many different international countries. So, it grew to start as a Latino heritage celebration to an international diversity celebration. We're so thrilled we're going to be offering a very good taste of what all these wonderful cutlures bring to the area." 

Brad Byrd: "The world we live in, the polarization in this country, what can this festival teach us when they come out to Goebel Sports Park this weekend?" 

Abraham Brown: "Well, in the process of integration, we need the to basic ingredients about learning each other. This festival offers the opportunity to learn about all of these wonderful countries, about what they eat, how the dress, the music they listen to, different aspects that are important to the culture. Understanding the culture they come from, it's a little bit one of the main ingredients to understand why they are coming to this area. And also for international immigrants coming to the area, it's very important to learn about the history of this area, the people of this community. So, it's a two way communication, a two way learning process that helps us integrate. So, Fiesta Evansville promotes that integration and the opportunity to all be one, be one community." 

Brad Byrd: "And it's at Goebel Sports Park this weekend. There will be the Fiesta Cup that will get underway and all the many aspects of not only the Latino heritage, but also just the world itself." 

Abraham Brown: "Yes, so excited. Lots of food, wonderful international food, lots of music. We're going to have folkloric dancers from different countries. The Mosaicos, one of the most watered folkloric in just the Midwest is going to be coming and performing for Fiesta Evansville. A wonderful band that's been exploding with music everywhere is coming to perform. We just have a lot of entertainment and family friendly, completely free. It's a wonderful way to celebrate all of the good things we have in this community." 

Brad Byrd: "Well, Abraham Brown, it's good to see you tonight and best to you on another great festival coming up this weekend, October 7th and 8th this weekend out at Goebel Park."

(This story was originally published on October 5, 2017)

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