Mountain Fiesta

The Mountain Fiesta is a homemade celebration of Latin American and Appalachian culture, created with the vision of giving our community the opportunity to interact, sing, dance, and learn about the beauty and diversity of Latin America. Specifically, the Mountain Fiesta aims to create a space where our community members can learn dances, practice language, and sample food from countries they’ve never been to, while sharing some of our own uniquely Appalachian products and practices. Ultimately, this event is a celebration of the richness and uniqueness of Latin America, set in the heart of the Cumberland Gap, and a chance to appreciate the similarities and differences between our mountains and the mountains of Latin America. The Mountain Fiesta is an inclusive celebration, with no entry fee, plenty of fun, and interesting opportunities for our entire community. This event is organized and supported based on the understanding that our community – our world – is a better place when we celebrate diversity; when we celebrate each other.
In the Andes of South America, as well as in Appalachia, community is everything. In both places, there is a deeply understood and felt sense of reciprocity. In Quechua, this reciprocity is called randi randi – la reciprocidad. Everything is part of a cycle of dar y recibir – give and take. My students and I bring this understanding to the planning table when we organize The Mountain Fiesta. Every stage of our planning and efforts is rooted in the question of reciprocity; how can we give as much as possible to our community, which has given so much to us.
It is not enough to tolerate, accept, or even appreciate diversity in culture. It has to be celebrated. The reason the Mountain Fiesta is so successful and important is that both cultures deeply value food, music, dance and coming together in community. The Mountain Fiesta brings all those things into the public square in Cumberland Gap once a year. The result is a beautiful harmony of cornbread and tortillas – bluegrass and bachata – pupusas and fried pies. The celebratory interplay of these two seemingly polarized cultures in the setting of a festival has been marvelous to witness, and more successful than we ever imagined.
This year, the Mountain Fiesta will take place Friday April 19 – Saturday April 20. We will have a variety of live music, including Rio Bamba’s Brazilian jazz, Outlaw Ritual’s gritty mountain music, and Appalatin’s amazing fusion of Appalachian and Latin American sounds. As usual, we will have food vendors from all over Latin America as well as vendors selling Appalachian crafts and artisan goods. We are expanding (as usual) and plan on featuring far more craft vendors to highlight and exhibit local creativity. New additions include the inaugural Groovy Llama 5k Color Run.
We cannot do anything without community support and the collaboration of our partners. We hope you will consider partnering with and supporting us this year – at least come join the party.

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