The Hola Festival is one of my favorite festivals of the year in downtown Knoxville. A wide range of Latin cultures are on display through delicious foods, flashy dancing, music and crafts. It’s one of the few times downtown when the white population is in a minority. Spanish words fill the air, the smells of tacos, burritos, tamales and chouros mingle and smiles abound in every direction. It’s hard not to like any of that.
This is my fourth Hola Festival and each one assumes a personality or distinctiveness of its own. This year it was all about the weather. The event, scheduled for Saturday, had to be postponed due to the two inches of rain that fell on the Knoxville area. Fortunately for everyone involved, the festival secured permission to use Market Square on Sunday. This meant a smaller event as some of the vendors, performers and parade participants were unable to change plans at the last minute.
Additionally, having the event on Market Square placed the event front-and-center and, I’m sure, exposed a number of people to the festival who would otherwise have missed it. The down side to mingling with so many unsuspecting people was that the parade became very difficult in the absence of an actual cordoned-off route for it to follow. The schedule also remained a mystery as the programs had a Saturday schedule which included longer hours.
Urban Girl was all about wanting to play on the bouncy castle like last year and, obviously, could not wait to see Dora the Explorer. With the change of schedule she was unable to attend and it was just as well, as both the things she was most excited about didn’t happen. I guess Dora doesn’t work on Sunday.
Though the event was scaled down, it maintained its festive air. Urban Woman and I enjoyed some great food which, thanks to living in the city, we could take home and enjoy rather than standing around with our plates like everyone else on the square. Madeline Rogero walked with the delegation from Spain and seemed to have a good time, even joining the participants on the stage for a photo shoot that turned into a celebratory dance.
I hope the weather is more favorable next year and they are able to maintain their spot on Regas Square. I missed Dora and Diego, the children’s section and the more spacious accommodations in the other location. If you’ve never attended, I’d strongly encourage you to do so. Hopefully, Urban Girl and I will see you there. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the photographs.