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THE Sentinel-NEWS: How did this idea originate?
Sarah Fouts: The idea originated from various sources. Shelby Prevention’s Cultural Diversity Committee wanted to bring back the heritage festival, which was held annually in Shelby County. We received input from the Latino community (at the Latino Forums and via a Latino youth group through Church of Annunciation) regarding their desire to have a fun event, open to everyone, highlighting the Latino community. The committee met with Bob Gates of the Folk Life Department at the Kentucky Historical Society. We brainstormed different ways to emphasize what great diversity this population brings to this town. It didn’t take long before we decided the best way to reach all is through our stomachs, hence the idea of a food festival. Gates and his crew will provide a stage with a full kitchen. The local chefs will share some of the cooking processes for their platos tipicos, or traditional meals, from their respective countries and regions. We will also feature community resource booths, as well as local Latin American artists, such as a piñata maker, embroidery, alfrombras and a Latin American hairstylist from Dream Salon.
S-N: What sorts of dishes can the public expect?
FOUTS: We will feature cooks from Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Honduras, and El Salvador who will prepare dishes from their respective countries. Foods will include tamales, traditional tacos, fried plantains, rice, beans, ceviche, homemade tortillas, and freshly made juices. These will be sold by the local vendors. We are really trying to get to the core of the variety of foods these cultures. Oftentimes Latin American restaurants will try too much to cater to the classic cravings, such as burritos, tacos, fajitas; however, we want to delve deeper and draw attention to the more authentic foods that have been brought to the USA and are stilled served in the homes.
S-N: Who will be featuring food at the festival?
FOUTS: We have six main chefs that will be featuring food and samples at the festival. Chef Julian Sanchez from El Quetzal will feature a traditional Guatemalan dish called pepian, which is a chicken dish served with a sauce consisting of different peppers, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and other secrets. Ña Tere from Espiga de Oro will feature a classic mole dish, which is also a chicken dish but includes a sweet and spicy sauce flavored with chocolate. Maribel from El Paraiso will show us how to make a typical Guatemalan dish made from plantains, cotija cheese, and refried beans.
S-N: You’re having a salsa contest. How can people enter?
FOUTS: A salsa contest will take place around 4 p.m. that day. Anyone can enter a homemade salsa. He/she will need to bring a medium-sized bowl of salsa so that the six, unbiased judges can sample and select first-, second- and third-place winners. We are leaving the word “salsa” open for interpretation, so it may be extra spicy, sweet, salsa verde or pico de gallo. We just want a good variety and the best selection.
S-N: Do you hope to make this an annual event?
FOUTS: Shelby Prevention definitely hopes to make this an annual event for the entire community. We would potentially like to bring this event to downtown Shelbyville in order to attract more people. We feel this type of event is important to positively highlight our community’s diversity and to reduce the barriers and polarizations within our town. Furthermore, we have received great interest from all sectors of the community, as sponsors, volunteers, organizers, etc., who are already wanting to participate more actively next year. Let’s just hope the weather cooperates this year!