New El Tigre Fest promises Hispanic gastronomical and entertainment delights

The best part of Hispanic Heritage Month in Tigard just might come on the last day, when the city pulls out all the stops to host El Tigre Fest, a family-friendly cultural event featuring Latino-American food, live music, arts and crafts, children’s activities and dancing on Saturday, Oct. 15.

“Part of the ethos and idea behind El Tigre is to have every facet of the booking, art, vendors, food and planning to be informed by and for the Latino/Hispanic community,” said Leandro Barrientos, the city’s digital communications coordinator.

The event will take place in Dirksen Nature Park and run from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

City leadership came up with the idea for the festival as a stand-alone event after the previous Latino festival piggybacked on the city’s annual Street Fair, according to Barrientos. “Tigard’s Latino population is 11.9 percent, and they contribute a lot to our culture and our economy,” he said. “We have a lot of Latino businesses – restaurants and stores – that have been here for decades, and this is an awesome opportunity for people to experience them. We are very excited about the festival.”

He added that at the Sept. 13 City Council meeting, the council made a proclamation declaring Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as National Heritage Month.

As far as the entertainment, which should be a big draw, the city is setting up a full professional, transportable stage where performers from both inside and outside Oregon will perform.

“We are working with Cielo Talent Agency, a Latino-American agency that books (music) shows on the West Coast,” Barrientos said. “A lot of minority artists are underrepresented, and we are excited to showcase them.”

(Clockwise from top) La Marcha; Momotombo Soundsystem; Valley Wolf.

At Tigard Life’s press time, DJs Momotombo Soundsystem and Gold Code were confirmed to perform along with two bands: La Marcha, a high-energy variety dance band that performs a mix of well-known covers, and Valley Wolf, made up of self-proclaimed “four young vatos from Modesto” who formed their own psyc Latinx troupe. Confirmation of two more bands was still pending.

“In addition, we are working with vendors to make it as easy as possible for them to participate,” Barrientos said. For starters, vendors can fill out application forms in Spanish, and while many festivals charge $200 or more for a booth, Tigard is charging $25.

“We lowered that cost so that everyone can participate without that barrier,” Barrientos said. “The booths will have power for their grills and refrigerators, and we want to showcase a wide variety of Hispanic foods. The sky is the limit. Our goal is 20 to 25 food booths, but I would be happy with 15 or 20.”

In addition, Cooper Mountain Ale Works’ brew-master will be selling two special, limited-edition beers – a Mexican-style lager made with agave and a dark lager – that are brewed in Tigard. “You can’t get any more local than that,” Barrientos said.

There also will be other Hispanic businesses as well as the city represented at the festival with booths, including the Tigard Public Library, where staff will sign up people for library cards.

“This is a great opportunity for people to see the wide variety of Hispanic products – not just foods – that are available in Tigard,” Barrientos said. “Our goal is to stimulate the local economy and bring people together.”

As far as activities, families can make paper flowers and participate in rock painting, face painting, body art and Halloween activities. At the park are eight to 10 picnic tables, and because those will fill up, families are encouraged to bring blankets to sit on the grass to eat and enjoy the entertainment.

“I want everyone in Tigard to come and enjoy this event,” Barrientos said. “The beauty of music is that it brings everyone together, and when you add food and beer – it’s perfect.”

He added, “I see Tigard as putting on bigger festivals throughout the year with different themes.”

The city is providing security at the event along with ADA restrooms, and it is partnering with the Tigard-Tualatin School District to provide parking at nearby Fowler Middle School. In addition, a new parking lot near Tigard Street and Tiedeman Avenue is scheduled to be open in time for the festival.

“The sun sets at 6:24 that day, so we are ending the festival at 6 because we want people to safely get back to their vehicles while there is still light,” Barrientos said 

Dirksen Nature Park is located at 11130 S.W. Tiedeman Ave. For more information, tinyurl.com/4t687cv6.

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Barbara Sherman is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at several metro-area newspapers for nearly 30 years. You can reach Barbara at barb@tigardlife.com.