With her eyes fixated on a mariachi band, the sounds of traditional folk music reminded Yolanada Chalmeos of home.
The Killeen resident moved to the U.S. more than 45 years ago; and although she rarely visits her native Mexico, events like Saturday’s Hispanic Heritage Festival at the Killeen Community Center give her a sense of belonging.
“When I was in Mexico, I used to listen to this kind of music all the time,” she said. “There’s a lot of memories. It reminds me of home.”
Chalmeos said she typically travels to larger cities like San Antonio or Corpus Christi for Hispanic Heritage Month events, but was impressed by the local options for entertainment.
She spent the entire day at the festival and said it was the perfect start to her weekend.
“Everything is beautiful,” she said.
Jennifer Maing, of Killeen, attended the annual festival for the first time to celebrate the Hispanic heritage of her step dad and enjoy cultural music and food.
“I really enjoy the music and just being around the people,” she said. “It’s important to support (the diversity) of people. It’s a nice way for the Hispanic people to come out and celebrate their culture.”
Raul Villaronga, president of Killeen’s League of United Latin American Citizens, said the event is a great way for people to embrace the diversity within the community.
The festival gives residents the opportunity to find out more about the diversity of foods, customs, traditions and music in Killeen.
“It’s a cultural exchange within the community that lets people get to know a little bit more about one another,” he said. “I hope that we can share and learn from each other.”
Villaronga said the main purpose of the event is to share experiences and become aware of different cultures.
“It’s so you’re not sitting in one corner thinking, ‘I don’t know any of these people. I’m good,’” he said. “This is the time to find out.”