Uncooperative weather hindered Red Deer’s Fiestaval from showing its true colours.
For the second year in a row, rain has thinned attendance at the Festival Latino now in its sixth year.
Organizer Christian Greiffenstein said there was plenty of online support, including 3,000 Facebook likes, for the event in the days leading up to Saturday. Local hype was also building.
But then the rains came, which left the beer garden empty and few dozen spectators huddled under building overhangs and umbrellas early Saturday afternoon.
“We haven’t really seen how much we can grow,” said Greiffenstein.
There was no denying the enthusiasm of vendors, volunteers, entertainers, food tuck operators and spectators.
Anna Dolorier came from Calgary with her business El Dorado Treasurers, selling brightly coloured fashion items and finger puppets from Peru.
This was her third year in Red Deer and enjoyed the first two visits.
“That’s why I keep coming back.”
She was philosophical about the weather and her sales.
“This is business. Sometimes it’s a lot, sometimes it’s less.”
Dolorier, who immigrated to Canada from Peru 10 years ago, said part of the reason she comes is to support the Latin community and its events. She will be at Calgary’s Fiestaval later this month.
Bearj and Ashley Melanson just missed out on the sausages at the Red Deer Public Market and happened across Fiestaval on their quest for lunch.
It was a stroke of luck for the self-confessed foodies, who got their first tastes of arracheras at the booth run by Red Deer’s Salvadoran Canadian Association.
“Definitely, a first-timer,” Ashley said of her unique lunch. “The sauce is insanely spicy.”
Bearj gave the popular Peruvian dish a good review as well. “They’re awesome.”
Anna Thomsen was huddled under her umbrella taking in the sights next to the Chair Tease Dance booth, where she is a participant. Chair Tease has supported the festival since its first year.
Thomsen said she was enjoying the event despite the weather.
“It’s good. I wish it was a little warmer, but other than that.”
Juan Quijada, president of the local chapter of the Salvadoran Canadian Association, was still smiling despite the rain.
“We enjoy it a lot,” he said. “We love this city.”
He’s pleased to see the festival is growing and expects it will continue as Red Deer’s Latin American population is increasing each year.
Fiestaval event manager Janice Shimek said the weather is disappointing but she noted at 7 a.m. all of the volunteers were ready to go.
“I guess we’re all resilient Albertans. We do what we can.”
The Latin community is also hard to keep down despite the clouds.
“I think that’s one thing about this culture. It’s a very upbeat culture. They love their food and they love their music.”