IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- After rescheduling from a month ago, the Iowa City Latino Festival was back on- and organizers said postponing the event ended up bringing more support for it.
The 7th-annual event was originally scheduled for late August, but organizers were concerned about backlash from the community after an illegal immigrant, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, was arrested in the murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts. Organizers said the month delay served to pay respect to the Tibbetts family, and in turn, brought people and groups in the community closer together.
"I think on our side, we did the right thing," said Manny Galvez, who served as the organizer for the event. "And we feel like we had a moment of respect and now we have to move on with our lives."
Galvez said seeing hundreds of people walking through was a great feeling, avoiding a negative response from the event.
"After what happened in the last month, we have seen many supporters," Galvez said.
"And this time we have more support from the community," Galvez said. "New tables, new organizations that want to support the Latino community. And that feels great to know that our community is, I would say, in support for many people and many organizations."
Some people who attended the event saw advertisements and flyers which sparked their interest, while others were hoping for good food and just an overall good experience, similar to other events held in downtown Iowa City.
Vendors selling different items and food lined Linn Street, but Galvez said their goal the event this year was worn on the chests of those attending.
"The message that we are sending: we are just one community, as the logo for this year says," Galvez said.
Galvez said as the event returned, they can focus on the celebration aspect of the event, getting people interested and learning more about Latino cultures.