One of the largest local Hispanic celebrations will return to Cape Coral this weekend.
The HUGE Viva Cape Coral! will be held Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. on Southeast 47th Terrace, between Coronado Parkway and Southeast 10th Place. Organized by the Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Fuccillo Kia, the annual event features live music, food and vendors.
Veronica Culbertson, president of the chamber, explained that the festival is a celebration of Hispanic heritage and of all countries and cultures. The event has been going on for at least several years.
"Basically, it's a day to celebrate Hispanic culture," she said.
Free and open to the public, the festival draws a few thousand people.
"I'd say 5,000 to 6,000," Culbertson said of last year's event.
For the 2016 festival, organizers relocated the event from the South Cape to Sun Splash Family Waterpark for the first time. This year, they decided to move the event back to the downtown area.
"I think we're just used to street festivals," she said, noting that the music and vendors were in separate areas at Sun Splash. "(Southeast) 47th Terrace worked so much better for this festival-type of event."
The headline performer this year is Puerto Rican Power, as international salsa group.
Culbertson said the 13-member band has been performing since the 1970s.
"We've grown up with this music, and they still have new songs," she said.
"It's a great group," Culbertson added. "Everybody knows them."
Previously, the headliners performed reggaeton, pop or a mix.
"This year - salsa," she said. "We're kind of excited."
A first this year, organizers have partnered with Playa 98.1 (WRXH-HD2).
Also taking the stage will be the local bands Orquesta Tropical Sound and Grupo Espali.
"They play a little bit of everything," Culbertson said of the two groups.
"Bachata, merengue," she said. "They're doing a variety of music."
Another first this year, there will be fun and games for attendees from 5 to 7 p.m.
"The deejays and the emcees are going to be doing salsa competitions," Culbertson said.
"Games, competitions," she said. "They're going to be interacting with the public."
A children's area will feature rides and activities, such as a rock climbing wall and slides.
"They usually bring ponies," Culbertson said.
Tickets will be available for purchase.
Galacctin the Clown, a longtime local performer, will provide the entertainment.
About a dozen different vendors will be serving up tasty dishes.
"They have Puerto Rican and Cuban," she said.
"We have Mexican," Culbertson added. "We have Venezuelan, Peruvian."
There will also be hot dogs, gyros and typical festival fare.
Area businesses will be on site promoting their products and services.
"We have people with arts and crafts from different countries for sale," she said.
"So we have a little bit of everything," Culbertson added.
Organizers urged the public to come out and enjoy the celebration.
"The food is amazing - nowhere else are you going to find all of this in one place. The music is fun and upbeat," she said. "It's very family-orientated, it's for everybody - you can bring the kids."
For more information, visit the event website at: www.vivacapecoral.com/ or search for the Facebook event page at "The HUGE 'Viva Cape Coral!' Festival - Presented by Fuccillo Kia."
People can also contact the chamber at 239-418-1441.