Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

Did you know September 15th thru October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month? A time to celebrate the history, culture, contributions, and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. In conjunction, Indigenous Peoples’ Day falls within the 30-day celebration on October 12th. We have chosen to celebrate by meeting with members of our community and highlighting their contributions, accomplishments, and plans to celebrate this year. We invite you to join the celebration! Celebrating goes far beyond events and parties. We want you to support local shops and restaurants, educate yourself and others, play outdoors, enjoy the music, and of course share your experiences via social media. Read below for ideas on how you can take part in the celebration!

hispanic heritage month mural

Olivia Barraza, Director and Founder

Olivia planted her roots in Northwest Arkansas over 30 years ago and has worked for Tyson, Walmart, the post office, Topgolf, and the U.S. Census. In 2019, she founded Arkansas Latinas Bike alongside her sister. Olivia said, “I don’t peddle to compete but to empower women in my community.” Around this time of year Olivia dresses in green, blares music by her favorite artists, and shares about her culture on social media. This year she is celebrating by supporting locally owned restaurants that serve food and drinks that will take her back to her Mexican roots along with the music. As the Director of Arkansas Latinas Bike, she is using this month to finalize details for the Dia de los Muertos bici ride that will take place November 7th. “We decorate our bikes with catrinas (skeletons) and catalacas (skulls), dress up and paint our faces, and of course enjoy music and food for the ride.” The purpose of the ride is to share our culture and traditions with the community while enjoying the beautiful trails in NWA.

rich simmons street art in Roger, AR

Jaime Camacho, Operations Manager & Norma Camacho, Owner

Jaime and his wife, Norma took over the tortilleria and restaurant 3 years ago and have since expanded the tortilla and chip distributions to over 10 locations in NWA and as far out as Noel, Missouri. The restaurant's authentic recipes have been carefully curated by Norma who shares her love for Guanajuato, Mexico through her food. Mexican cuisine varies throughout the country when traveling north to south and it reflects in the restaurants you see in the U.S. Jaime recommends all visitors try their Menudo and barbacoa when visiting Rogers. The month kicks off with the celebration of independence on September 15th for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and on the 16th for Mexico. Jaime said, "National Hispanic Heritage month gives us a time to celebrate our contributions and share our cultures with the community." The family typically celebrates at a restaurant, however, this year they will be ordering takeout and celebrating at home.

Cesar Aguilar, Responsible for Youth Soccer and Adult Soccer

Cesar first joined Rogers Parks & Rec in 2007 while he held positions at J.B. Hunt, Arvest, Walmart, Mercy, and within the Steve Womack administration. He officially took his current role in 2016 with only 800 players, a number that has since grown to over 1,200. " Rogers is a hidden secret" and to Cesar, National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to make a presence and support our leaders who represent our communities. He believes he does this with the soccer community setting regulations and requirements, “we are a bridge that helps kids just starting with soccer and push them to their fullest potential to join bigger teams and become leaders.” Cesar uses every opportunity he gets to reach out to previous players he has coached and mentored and showcases the new up and coming talent in the community year-round and hopes to do this during this 30-day celebration.

Fredy Romero, Owner

Metroplex Event Center has been in Rogers for 16 years and in Springdale for 7 years. Fredy got his start in the events industry as a radio DJ and later provided mobile DJ services for Metroplex before buying out the business. “This month is about sharing our heritage with friends, neighbors, and their families while asking them to join us in celebrating the history and culture of our people.” As a minority-owned event center they give patrons the confidence to celebrate their traditions whether that be through preferred meals, drinks, holiday celebrations, and entertainment they can make it work. In the past Metroplex Event Center hosted celebrations for Hispanic Heritage, Cinco de Mayo, and several multicultural organizations in the community and Fredy looks forward to being able to host these again in the future. Local High Schools also choose Metroplex Event Center to host their proms.

Maria de Lourdes Valverde Galindo

Lourdes Valverde relocated to NWA in 2015. She has since dove into the arts and culture scene with a goal to open doors for more opportunities for hispanic artists and new activities for the community to celebrate, “let’s take advantage of our culture and share with the community.” She has participated in art exhibitions across NWA and Little Rock with her work of the Aztec Calendar. Lourdes will be participating in the downtown Rogers Art on the Bricks “Celebrate Diversity” exhibition September 15th to October 15th. Lourdes is on a mission to work with museums translating their exhibit tours to the Spanish language. Additionally, Lourdes is working with Museum of Native American History (MONAH) to celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) virtually on October 31st and looks forward to MONAH hosting the in-person event once again in 2021.

Main article image and top image by:  Brad Stallcup with Minim Design Co.