COLUMBIA, SC — A 16-year-old bought a Mexican flag at the Main Street Latin Festival on Saturday and planned to display it in his bedroom window.
“I’m going to put it where everyone can see it,” Hector Aguilar said proudly.
Aguilar’s mom, Cynthia Lambert, brought her two children to the festival for the first time because the culture is a part of their heritage, she said.
They correspond with their family members that live in Mexico through social networking websites, but it is important to Lambert for her children to get a hands-on and visual experience of their heritage.
Aguilar bought his flag from a booth that sold T-shirts, hats and flags from many countries in Latin America. The booth was run by the owner of Mara’s Paradise, which is located in the main exchange at Fort Jackson.
Mara DeBolt, originally from Panama, said she sells merchandise to soldiers who come from all over the country to Fort Jackson for basic training.
“She could sell the sun in the desert,” said her friend, Angela Cano, who helped manage the booth.
Ted Sims saw Panamanian merchandise at the booth and he said his cousins live in the country and he was born there. Sims brought his young daughter McKenna to the festival because he wanted to show the next generation her Latin heritage.
McKenna said learning about Panama makes her want to visit the country.
Around noon, the two had not yet decided on what to eat.
“The Puerto Rican cuisine is looking pretty good,” Simms said.
By early afternoon long lines formed at the dozen or so food booths and music played at a stage by the corner of Washington and Main.
Ronald McDonald, with his famous red hair and white face, made an appearance by a McDonald’s food truck.
A few merchandise booths had masks that looked like one Spider-man or a wrestler might wear and also sold miniature boxing gloves and bracelets.
Olivia Leskoske and her boyfriend Raul Huambo ate lunch leaning against a Main Street building.
Leskoske is from Columbia and Huambo is from Peru. They came to the festival together last year too. They attend the festival for the food and something different to do.
“You can see the differences and the diversity between different cultures,” Leskoske said.
Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope