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The weekly Latino/Chicano Student Association (LCSA) meeting is abuzz with activity. On Saturday, April 19 from 5-9 pm, the Fiesta will be celebrated at UMD, and along with it will come a wave of attention from the Duluth community. The event is entirely student run, and annually attracts more than 400 people from UMD and the greater Duluth area.
"It's a highly anticipated event, especially from the community," said Chris Davila, the LCSA's advisor and former member of the organization. "I've been receiving calls and emails since the beginning of the school year. People get excited about the Fiesta; there's a lot of things going on here that you can't experience anywhere else in Duluth."
The event is as authentic to Latino/Chicano culture as possible, featuring a silent auction, live entertainment, food, and a dance. It is passing a major milestone this year with its 25th consecutive event. The first Fiesta was organized when Susana Pelayo-Woodward was an undergraduate.
"She is currently the director of the Office of Cultural Diversity, but as an undergrad at UMD she helped organize the very first Fiesta. She has remained actively involved in Fiesta every year for the past 25 years," Davila said. "We all owe her a debt of gratitude for all she has done and continues to do."
"The silent auction is made from a bunch of different things donated or crafted by UMD, the LCSA, and the community," explained LCSA Executive Board member Thelmy Maldonado. "One year, LSCA members put together a movie basket, with movies and popcorn. Local businesses often provide gift cards, and departments at UMD also contribute items. In the past, a Latino family has donated an authentic meal at their home." After the designated bidding time for the silent auction, guests take their seats for dinner and a show.
"Each year the entertainment is a little different, to reflect the different cultures that are part of the organization," Davila explained. "The LCSA usually brings a band or group from the Twin Cities to perform, as well as students and local people who want to participate." In the past there have been performances by mariachi bands, Aztec dancers, and folk dancing, among other varieties of entertainment.
The food is an authentic buffet, crafted as a collaboration between UMD Dining Services and students from the LCSA. Students work very closely with the chefs to guarantee authenticity, usually bringing their own recipes from home and holding taste-tests to ensure perfection. "Dining Services has recently done an especially fantastic job," Davila commended. "We used to have problems getting the food just right, but in the past few years it has been exceptionally good." After dinner comes a Latin dance, complete with live music.
Fiesta tickets sell out quickly every year, and are available starting Tuesday, April 8 at tables staffed by LCSA members in Kirby Commons. Tickets cost $10 for UMD students and $15 for community members. Students who are interested in joining the Latino/Chicano Student Association, or would like to know more about them, are encouraged to check out the LCSA webpage, the association's Student Organization page, or their Facebook Page.
Written by Zach Lunderberg, Apr. 2014
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