SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The South Dakota Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SDHCC) is hosting the first ever Latino Festival and Parade this weekend at Levitt at the Falls. 

The SDHCC will celebrate diversity and Latino communities in Sioux Falls Sunday, September 17 from 11 a.m. -5 p.m. with Latino musical performances, food and clothing vendors. 

Selene Zamorano-Ochoa, the president and founder of the SDHCC, said she hopes the festival makes Latinos in South Dakota feel appreciated, seen and more comfortable to express their cultures. 

“We say that the word ‘welcome’ means more than just the wording. It means that you feel like you’re at home, it feels like you’re appreciated and welcomed as you are,” she said. 

The festival kicks off at 11 a.m. with a parade where local Hispanic businesses, churches and organizations, along with students from the Sioux Falls School District, walk through downtown and celebrate the multiple countries that make up the Hispanic culture.  

The parade starts at 8th Street and Dakota Ave before turning on Phillips Avenue, where it ends at the Levitt. Portions of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Streets, along with Dakota, Main and Phillips Avenues will be closed from 10-12 p.m. on Sunday. 

Musical acts are coming in from across the country, including Freddy Flores, DJ Bobby Flow, DJ Frank Fuego, Los Dos De Sinaloa and Rosendo Robles. Performances will start on the Levitt Shell stage at 12 p.m. Before that begins, there will be a traditional Folklorico dance. 

“They bring in the culture with the pretty dresses and the flowers and dancing,” Zamorano-Ochoa said about the Folkorico dancers. 

Taqueria González will be the only food truck available during the festival, however, multiple other food vendors like La Luz del Mundo and El Tapatio will be at the event serving tacos, nachos, burritos and Mexican fruit cups.

September is Hispanic Heritage Month and while other communities have held events to celebrate, Latinos in Sioux Falls noticed a lack of festivities so they decided to make their own event.

“Every year during Hispanic Heritage Month we get kind of sad because we don’t have many options for us to celebrate,” Zamorano-Ochoa said. “Latinos love music and food and to gather and celebrate. We would joke amongst us that maybe next year we can do a festival but nobody ever really took the initiative until this year.”

Zamorano-Ochoa said the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was established two years ago after the pandemic was a “wake up call” that South Dakota and Sioux Falls were lacking in opportunities and support for Latinos. 

The SDHCC provides classes and advice on accounting, finances, business management and how to fill out documentation for new hires. All of this information is given out for free and all in Spanish for Hispanic business owners. 

This year will mark the first ever Latino Festival in South Dakota and Zamorano-Ochoa plans on making it an annual event because of how important it is for local Latinos. 

“Having a Latino festival and parade is a way for us to feel like home because we can visualize, we can feel, we can taste the food from back home,” Zamorano-Ochoa said.