The First Annual Latino Heritage Festival was held on May 25, 2002. This event was a setting which made Iowans aware of the positive aspects the Latino brings to the community. It served as a vehicle to unite various human service agencies, corporations, and other community entities that have tried to outreach to the Latino community. Local artists, and performers were able to show their talents. The festival was entertaining, cheerful, informative, and an enriching event that was enjoyed by thousands of participants regardless of age, race, ethnicity, creed, or gender. This event gave the Latino community a sense of accomplishment and ethnic pride. This event now has the distinction of not only being the largest Latino Festival in the state, but is the largest ethnic event in the state of Iowa.
Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival started about 16 years ago as a way to celebrate the contributions from the 20 Latin countries that are represented in Iowa. The festival has become more important as our Latino population has grown. There are about 174,000 Latinos living in Iowa, which makes us the state’s largest race/ethnic minority. The population has grown more than 110 percent since 2000.