The event celebrating Latin American cultures is set for Saturday, Sep. 15 in Hillsboro.

COURTESY PHOTO - Participants dance for the El Grito Community Festival in 2017 at Shute Park. Latin American cultures come together to celebrate the annual El Grito Community Festival in Hillsboro's Shute Park on Saturday, Sept. 15.

The annual event is expected to draw thousands of people. The festival is seen as a jumpstart to Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15.

The celebration was held in Cornelius for decades, but moved to Shute Park, 900 S.E. Maple St., last year. The festival served as a celebration not only of Mexican Independence Day, on Sept. 15, but as a chance to put Latino culture on display, according to organizers.

The event has been a mainstay at Centro Cultural de Washington County, a Latino resource center in Cornelius, and remains the most popular gathering at Centro Cultural each year.

Live music, dancing, activities, regional food and a traditional "El Grito" ceremony will be on display at Shute Park throughout the day.

Each September, the president of Mexico rings the bell in the Mexican National Palace to commemorate the beginning of Mexico's war for independence from Spain in 1810 in remembrance to a priest who rang the bell of his church in Dolores, Mexico, starting a call to arms.

COURTESY PHOTO - The El Grito Community Festival is created by Centro Cultural de Washington County. "It is a great community partnership and a great way for the community to come together and celebrate the Latino culture and build relationships," city spokeswoman Corinne Weiss said.

Mariachi bands from the Hillsboro and Forest Grove school districts will perform at the beginning of the event, which opens at 1 p.m. Several dance troupes perform in the mid-afternoon, with a pair of bands at 5 and 6 p.m.

The El Grito ceremony is set for 6 p.m., with additional music to follow.

Centro Cultural's workforce development center, Centro de Prosperidad, located at 400 E. Main St., is sponsoring the event along with Tuality Healthcare.

Notably, Weiss said the festival will feature an art exhibit created by undocumented residents in Oregon and also an open art project that everyone in attendance can participate in.

By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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