The Latino Americano Festival packed Provo’s Center Street this Labor Day weekend with food, music, and dancing. However, people walked away with not just homemade tamales, but also voter registration packets. Festival president Ben Perez said it boosts political awareness in the Latino community.
“We have a booth where we can register to vote, and we have a couple of candidates that have booths here,” Perez said. “We have the U.S. Senate that is represented as well.”
Volunteers for political candidates know what many here are interested in discussing: immigration policies.
“It’s kind of a way to get them mobilized and get them involved with the political process by being at these festivals,” said Gary Ashcroft, candidate volunteer.
Latinos are about sixteen percent of Utah’s population and are the fastest growing demographic in the state. With all of that growth, some voters worry about a lack of political education. That education comes through cultural experiences like the Latino Americano Festival.
“By talking to people who have a similar background you’re able to know what do I want to vote for, and what’s really going on with the campaigns,” said Jordan Elmer.
While some festival attendees learned about important issues related to their culture at the booths, more than 150 people registered to vote.
“We not only live in this country,” Perez said. “We also need to learn the rules and the way that the country runs.”