North Florida Hispanic Festival 2015 takes over St. Louis Catholic Church

Handmade beaded, braided and roped jewelry from
Drawn By The Natural

Fresh smells from authentic Latin cuisine being prepared under tents, infectious laughter and live bone-moving music filled the air as Latin American families and friends gathered to celebrate the 5th annual North Florida Hispanic Festival 2015 at St. Louis Catholic Church on Saturday.

Jose Arias-Zambrano, owner of family-run homemade jewelry company Drawn By The Natural, offered a 30 percent-off discount for his handmade stone beaded wallets, necklace and earring sets, and bracelets to celebrate the 5th year anniversary.

"People from Latin American culture, we love this type of stuff. We really appreciate the kind of work that goes into making one of these pieces," said Arias-Zambrano. "We try to share our work, not just within the Hispanic Community at the Hispanic Festival, but with surrounding communities at the American Festivals too.”

Vendors and organizations from all around the city participated in this year's celebration of Hispanic culture, including a performance from Tallahassee Community College Dance Company.

DJ Carlitos played a mixture of new hip-hop infused Latin music and traditional salsa y bachata for everyone to enjoy.

For the three years, Manny Gonzales and his family have attended the Hispanic Festival and noticed how much the event has grown.

"This is a time for us to come together and get to know one another," Gonzales said. "I've met so many people. My children have met friends from other countries. It's really about the community."

All funds raised from parking was donated to the 2016 Hispanic-American Academic Award Fund.

Maria Diaz, direct sales consultant for Premier Designs and proud Latina, found the festival much more than a workstation to sell luxury bags and jewelry.

"It's like no matter where you go, if you see a bunch of Spanish people together—it's family," said Diaz. "Events like this help us come together. It's nice to see people from the same country as you who may, or may not, have the same background as you."