As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, we want to highlight several festivals taking place across the region, showcasing the different types of Hispanic cultures.

A local Hispanic networking group is providing a pathway for people in the Ozarks to familiarize themselves with local Latino businesses.

This past Friday, a Hispanic heritage festival was hosted by community leaders, giving people the opportunity to see the different businesses here in the Ozarks.

Gabriela Verdugo is the President of the Hispanic Networking Group of the Ozarks and she said while its important to put a spotlight on the different types of cultures within the Latino community, organizers wanted to raise money to give to 3 local non-profits.

“From there all of these ideas, Fluyeron, Hermosamente, and then I said let’s raise money for the non-profits that no one really knows about,” said Verdugo.

Verdugo tells me the networking group raised $6,500 dollars for Alas, Grupo Latinoamericano and Hand in-Hand Multi-cultural Center.

“I want Hispanic and Latino people to feel comfortable in this country and know that there is support for everyone,” said Verdugo.

With more multicultural festivals taking place in the area, those in attendance have the opportunity to see the different types of contributions made by people who reside in the Ozarks.

One of those contributions is from a Mexican-American author who highlights a few important issues in her book.

“There are three major themes, emotional themes in this book. The first is the idea of loss, the second one is the importance of holding on to your dreams. And the third theme is very important, it’s about letting children know how important it is to have friends who really support them,” said Andrea Gonzales.

Andrea Gonzales has written two books and she said her ties to Latin and European countries have provided her with a unique writing opportunity. She tells KOLR 10 she hopes to write a different story from each Latin country. 

A Spanish teacher who visited the festival from McDonald county says being able to speak two languages whether its Spanish or a different language is extremely beneficial. 

Marisela Jimenez came to the U.S. after being a teacher in her state of Chihuahua, Mexico. She says for her students she tries to take them to different places across the state to show them the Spanish culture.

“Esta es una oportunidad para ellos para que interactuen con otras personas porque ellos son el futuro del el pais. Y ellos van estar en differentes ambitos donde van a tener que utilzar el lleguaje,” said Jimenez.