The Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana (Hispanic-American Cultural Society) held its annual arts and culture festival, Fiesta Hispanoamericana, Sunday afternoon at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Approximately 325 people attended the event, said Reynalda Martinez, treasurer of the society. The date coincided with Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic cultures of 10 countries were represented: Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and the United States.
Wearing traditional dress in colors representing their countries, women, along with a few men and children, performed a variety of popular dances of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Panama. In between performances, a DJ played salsa and merengue dance music.
Lee Rios, of San Antonio, performed a salute to the Dominican Republic with dancer Ivis Torres. He recently began teaching a class Wednesdays on salsa and bachata dance at the Freestyle Dance Studio in Killeen.
Society president Frank Alvarez emphasized the goal of promoting their culture within their community. “It’s important for children to learn the dances and continue their roots,” he said.
As a retired member of the military, Alvarez knows it can be difficult for children to maintain a connection to their heritage if they do not grow up in one area.
The adults must teach the home customs and culture to them, he said. The dancers combined techniques of both traditional and modern dancing to “keep up with today.”
People traveled from across the state of Texas and as far as Missouri to attend Sunday’s fiesta, Alvarez said. This year was the sixth fiesta. The nonprofit society has grown since its inception in 1975. Now, they receive grants from the city of Killeen to assist their celebrations.