May 23, 2003

Books and family together in a Festival

The 4th Annual Latino Book and Family Festival will take place this weekend, May 24-25, in the San Diego Concourse

By Pablo De Sainz

Books mean power. When people read a book, the knowledge they acquire becomes power: power to defend themselves, power to make choices, and power to live a better life.

This weekend, May 24-25, many San Diegans, mostly of Latino descent, will come together to enjoy and share the magic of books and information at the 4th Annual Latino Book and Family Festival, in the San Diego Concourse. The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., both days.

“It’s to promote literacy among the Latino community,” said Jim Sullivan, one of the Festival’s organizers.

Created in Los Angeles in 1997 by Chicano actor Edward James Olmos, the Latino Book and Family Festival is considered the largest Latino consumer expo in the United States. This time it is San Diego’s turn to host the festival.

“San Diego is a beautiful city, a perfect location for a Festival supporting education and cultural diversity like ours,” said Olmos, co-producer. “We are thrilled and proud to re-visit San Diego for our 4th annual Latino Book & Family Festival production.”

The two-day event is free to all guests. There will be six themed villages: Book; Careers, Education, & Technology; Children’s; Culture & Travel; Health; and Mi Casita. Each village is a series of informational booths related to the theme. According to Sullivan, the villages weren’t originally included in the Festival.

“They were created out of people’s request,” he said. “They are areas that were needed.”

Some of this year’s highlights are the ethnic food court and the outdoor stage, which is the first time used.

In addition to the informational booths, there will also be music and entertainment. There will be two stages this year. Some of the bands and singer who will play include: San Diego’s native David Curiel, Los Cocodrilos del Norte, Ballet Esmeraldas de Colombia, among others.

But the main attraction will be the authors featured at the Festival. For example, Cristina Rivera Garza, an acclaimed Mexican novelist who lives in San Diego and is also a professor of Latin American history at San Diego State University. Her novel, “No One Will See Me Cry,” was recently translated from the Spanish. Other writers include Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez and Stella P. Duarte.

Also, there will be seminars on different topics, book signings, readings, and activities for children.

The Latino Book & Family Festival is operated by the Latino Literary Hall of Fame, a non-profit organization that supports literary excellence, reading and education.

According to organizers, “The Festival’s mission is to reduce illiteracy in the Latino community nationwide, differentiating itself by its core focus to advance the quality of life for Latinos via directed life and literacy education.”

Other cities the Festival visits include Phoenix, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

For more information on this event, you can call (760) 434-4484 and (619) 426-1491. Or log on to www.latinofestivals.com

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