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Latino Resources, Inc. is a non-profit entity that was developed to serve as the umbrella to the Latino Heritage Festival. The goals of Latino Resources, Inc. are to develop an event that will flourish and grow throughout the years to become a family tradition, similar to that within other Latino communities all over the country, but with a flare unique to Des Moines, Iowa.


Our Goals for the Latino Heritage Festival are:


  • Provide the public with a family oriented event filled with learning through music, dance, food, children’s activities, arts and cultural exhibits from various Central and South American countries.


  • To emphasize the uniqueness of our culture by demonstrating that we are a diversity within a diversity in the Latino community.


  • To create a venue to showcase Iowa-based performers, artisans, cultural craftsmen and artifact producers.


  • Through distinct activities and exhibits, educate the youth to a better understanding of the Latino culture and to teach them tolerance and appreciation of diversity

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.


Facts about our people:

  • By July 1, 2050, it is estimated there will be 450,321 Latinos living in Iowa. We will constitute 13 percent of the state’s population.


  • 12.1 percent of our population is younger than age 5, as of July 1, 2014. There are more Latino preschoolers than any other race or ethnic group.


  • 37 percent of our people were born in Latin America; 32 percent were born in Iowa.


  • The majority of our people were born in Mexico (41,224 in 2014). However, others are natives of El Salvador (3,647), Guatemala (4,887), Panama (625), Ecuador (714), Columbia (665), Brazil (759) and Venezuela (656), which is why the festival celebrates all of these countries and more.


  • The largest Latino population is in Polk County, where 36,994 Latinos (21.3 percent of the statewide population) live.


  • Other high concentrations of Latinos are Crawford County (27.3 percent), Buena Vista (24.8 percent), Marshall (19.9 percent) and Louisa (16.2 percent).


  • From 2000 to 2014, 52.7 percent of the growth in the Latino population occurred in Polk, Woodbury, Johnson, Marshall, Scott, Pottawattamie, Linn and Crawford counties. The Latino population in Ringgold increased by 669.2 percent between 2000 and 2014.

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latino festival

Spanish Teacher
Iowa Christian Academy


Spanish Teacher
Iowa Christian Academy


In 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month long celebration (Sept 15 to Oct 15). During this month, America celebrates the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sept 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept 16 and Sept 18, respectively.

There are 22 countries from Latin origin represented in Iowa.

Joe Gonzalez

Executive Director
Latino Resources, Inc.

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Yanira Scarlett
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Board Member

Claudia Thrane

Vice President

Board Member

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Constance Williams 


Board Member

Brenda Phongsavanh


Board Member

David Slinker

Board Member

Marianela Blanco

Board Member

Angelina González  

Children’s Activities Chair  

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Adriana Hernández 

Board Member

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Goizane Esain Mullin

Entertainment Chair

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Gumaro De Avila

Board Member

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Alba Pérez
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Civic Engagement and Education Soapbox Chair

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