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Festal: Fiestas Patrias Sept. 19-20

I love the foods of Latin America, and so I look forward every autumn to Seattle Center Festál:  Seattle Fiestas Patrias! The festival celebrates vibrant culture and community, independence and wellness in music, food and family, 12pm-6pm, Sept. 19 – 20, in Seattle Center Armory, Fisher Pavilion, and Seattle Center Pavilion. When you visit, you’ll find plenty of traditional Latin American savories and sweets to try, dancing to live mariachi music and fun children’s activities.

This year marks the 37th anniversary of Seattle Fiestas Patrias at Seattle Center and features Mariachi Huenachi, an award-winning student group from Wenatchee that performs a variety of popular Latin American musical styles, including cumbia, salsa and merengue, along with folkloric dances.

Children’s activities include two bounce houses, a petting zoo, face painting and flower potting. The “Sarapes of Mexico” booth teaches children to make these blanket-like shawls in traditional colors and patterns. Visual arts displays in Seattle Center Armory, “¡Viva! Latino Visions Art Exhibition” and The Tlaloc Exhibit,” showcase the work of emerging Latino and Latina artists from the greater Seattle area and indigenous art of Mexico.

A health fair offers free health screenings, fitness classes and information on community health services. Zumba classes at 12:30pm Saturday and hourly from 1pm-3pm Sunday invite festival-goers to try this Latin-inspired workout.

Bocaditos (bite-sized sandwiches), elotes (corn on the cob), chicharrónes (fried pork rinds), fruit with chile, ice cream, enchiladas, empanadas (stuffed pastry) and tamales (seasoned meat wrapped in cornmeal dough) are among the traditional and contemporary Latin American foods offered at the festival.

Seattle Center Festál is a program of Seattle Center Productions. Admission is free-of-charge. For more information on Seattle Fiestas Patrias and other Seattle Center public programming, click on Seattle Center or call 206 684-7200.