DES MOINES, Iowa — It was another weekend filled with food, fun and fiesta! One of the longest-running cultural festivals was back at Western Gateway Park.

It has been around since 2001 and has grown since.

The festival celebrates Latin cultures, from México to Guatemala to El Salvador. It’s an opportunity to learn about other cultures within Central and South America.

Executive Director of Latino Resources Joe Gonzalez also said it’s about reconnecting many with their roots.

“To the community, so that we can all come together so we can all unify, we can learn from each other to our folks so that we can show pride and not have to lose their culture,” Gonzalez said. “Because sometimes we get assimilated really fast in a different culture. You tend to lose your history, who you’re about and this is a way to celebrate it.”

He said social media has been a great resource for the community to learn more about the cultures and also create awareness for the event.

“Showcase contributions, not just celebrate, but to show contributions that we as a people make to the community and how important we are to the community as well,” Gonzalez said.

Not only is it about celebrating, but it’s also about giving back to the community and helping students succeed. Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival has given out scholarships to the community since it began.

“This is something I take very seriously and really deep to my heart because we are helping students that cannot apply for scholarships, do not qualify for any financial aid,” Marianela Blanco, Latino Heritage Festival board member and scholarship committee member said.

This year, they gave out scholarships to the largest group ever. Thirty-five students from Iowa received the Latino Heritage $1,000 scholarship.

“The moment that you tell them they won is just like that grateful feeling. They can’t thank you enough for helping them go through it. It’s just pride,” Blanco said. “We want the community to see who those students are, what they’re doing and the contribution that they do to the community.”

She hopes to have more community members contribute to the scholarships in the coming years.

To learn more about the scholarships and resources you can go to Latino Heritage Festival.