Monday, April 22, 2024

Inaugural Central American heritage festival to celebrate comida, comedia, cultura

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Roxanne’s owner Robert Molina and Salvadoran-American comedian Jose “Hoozay” Velasquez are teaming up to bring Long Beach its first festival focusing on the culture surrounding Central America.

When it comes to Latino-Americans in the States, there is no question that Mexican culture dominates—leaving other Latin Americans on the margins of visibility. And as a proud resident of Salvadoran heritage, Molina has long experienced this.

“It’s taken over a decade for folks to even realize that [Roxanne’s comes from a Central American angle or that my family is from El Salvador,” Molina said. “For me, it’s something to be proud of—and this festival is an extension of that toward other Central Americans.”

Calling it an “invitation to be proud,” the Central American Heritage Festival will take place on Nov. 25 at the Scottish Rite Theatre, where various representations of Central America—Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama—and their businesses will create food, stand-up comedy sessions, and cultural hubs for a festival that encompasses more than just one focus.

“We have the theatre for my stand-up, the full kitchen for some Central American caterers to serve up grub, and an entire parking lot to pack with things that honor Central America and its people,” Velasquez said. “We’re here, we’re everywhere—we’re often just kept quiet or out of sight.”

Hoozay’s “Soy Funny” lineup will bring out the region’s best comedians from Central America, including a set from Velasquez himself, as well as The Great Omar, Sergio Novoa, Sergio Melgar, Chavez Nelson, Mala Munoz, and Johnny Roque.

The kitchen will have reps from each country—like La Esperanza representing Guatemala, Honduras Kitchen repping Honduras, Roxanne’s representing El Salvador, Fritanga Mi Parrilla in honor of Nicaragua, Margaret Conorqie for Belize…—that people can purchase ticket books which give them a special taste from each country.

Even better? The affordability and accessibility of the festival. On top of the comedy show and food, there’s an outdoor bar, trio y bolero music, a “Sounds of Central America” section via Martin Espino, live art from Jayson Valencia, and more.

For more information on the festival and tickets, click here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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