To highlight the economic and cultural contributions of Hispanics and Latinos in Philadelphia, representatives from the city’s leading Latino community-based organizations have partnered to hold a market fair at LOVE Park on Friday. This is the first time that Latinos from all backgrounds have organized a citywide event, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and mobilizing Latino businesses, which have been hard hit by the pandemic.

The fair, “Latin America Thrives in Philadelphia,” will start at noon as an outdoor market, where 25 craftsmakers, artists, food vendors, and entrepreneurs will showcase traditional dishes, performances, jewelry, and textile products that represent the cultural richness of the nearly one dozen Latin America countries participating in the event.

LOVE Park will look slightly different to visitors and residents Friday: Vendors and performers will be placed around the park, with site-specific signage resembling the iconic green and white Philadelphia street signs, grouping the participants by country.

The Latino coalition behind the event, Alianza Latina, launched during the November presidential election, when the organization implemented outreach efforts and education campaigns around voters’ rights for Latinos in the region. Last year, the coalition was formed by Mexican, Dominican, Colombian, and Venezuelan community leaders based in Philadelphia. Today, Alianza Latina includes the leadership of Hispanics and Latinos of 11 Latin American countries, including Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, and others. Puerto Rico is also part of Alianza Latina.

Juan Giarrizzo, who represents Gente de Venezuela and is one of the organizers for the event, said this is a groundbreaking moment for Latino Philadelphia, where all groups will get a chance to come together and have an intercultural experience in the United States.

”When working on events of this nature, I realized that I don’t know much about the Hispanic scene in Philadelphia. I’ve connected with so many Latinos in the city and learned of their talents in the process.”

Alianza Latina is partnering with the office of Councilmember David Oh for the event, which organizers hope will become an annual tradition. Community leaders are seeking to have the city declare Oct. 1 as Latino American Entrepreneurs Day to create a platform to showcase the spirit, strength, and diversity that unites Latinos in Philly. Oh has agreed to introduce a resolution at City Council’s next session on Oct. 7.

During the market fair, Latino leaders will recognize legendary Puerto Rican leader Carmen Febo-San Miguel for her more than 40 years of work in Latino arts and culture. She will retire next month as the executive director for Taller Puertorriqueño.

Hispanics and Latinos represent 15.2% of Philadelphia’s population. According to 2020 Census data, the population has grown 27% in the city over the last 10 years.

Organizers say the market will have a global impact because merchants and vendors either import materials from Latin America or give back to civic organizations in their countries of origin. Latino business owners who attend the event will have access to free coaching consultations with experts in marketing, accounting, and business law.

All visitors must comply with the city’s current COVID-19 safety precautions and guidelines, including wearing masks.