Updated as of Oct. 1, 2021 at 4:28 p.m. to include video.

This weekend, Lore Meca Lara will bring her children to Alamance Art in downtown Graham, to remind them of their heritage and to help them celebrate their culture as Mexican Americans. She hopes many Hispanic community members bring their families to Graham this weekend, too, to attend Alamance County’s first annual Hispanic Heritage Month Festival on Sept. 25.

"This is for them to learn our heritage and to celebrate it," Meca Lara said. “We won't stop just because we're in a different country. You can still bring that with you and celebrate your ancestors."

Meca Lara, the chair of the committee working on the festival, was inspired by an art show for Latinx students in Alamance County. Seeing students celebrate their heritage and identity motivated Meca Lara to advocate for a bigger event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. 

"I want this to be about our roots, but I also want it to be a celebration of being part of this country," Meca Lara said. "Being in the United States is a goal for so many Latinx people, and origins and being here is also a celebration, how we are now part of this country."

Junior Sarah Rusthoven began working on the festival committee over the summer as an intern for Alamance Arts. At the end of her internship, she asked Meca Lara to stay and continue working on the festival. 

"I've never had the chance to really work with people that were so dedicated to planning an event," Rusthoven said. "It's just awesome being around people who are so passionate about planning this event."

According to Meca Lara, the festival is made up of many components, but is centered around three main components: music, dancing and food. The festival will also include live dancers, crafts, a parade and community resources.

Rusthoven said Elon University can be seen in its own bubble,  and the festival is a great way to get outside of that bubble and explore the community.

"Alamance County does have a large Hispanic population, so go and meet some people that are living right next to you," Rusthoven said. "It's a great easy way to go have some fun yourself and expose yourself to the surrounding area."

As a Mexican American who has lived in the area for over 20 years, Meca Lara said she hopes Hispanic people in Alamance County who attend the event walk away knowing they are accepted and celebrated in the community.

"Alamance County is a place where we are also respected and welcome. We are part of the growth of Alamance County," Meca Lara said. "I also want the only American side to know that we are happy to be here and that we will also be respected, and we want to bring the best and give the best, because this is now our home."