“Dia de Fiesta” celebrates Whidbey’s cultural diversity

— Created October 4, 2023 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

The Oak Harbor Main Street Association and the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, and local jWindermere broker and realtor, Maria Diaz, are please to announce Oak Harbor’s first Dia de Fiesta, or Day of Festivities, honoring Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Hispanic heritage festival will be held in downtown Oak Harbor from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and will feature food, music, vendors and entertainment. A Mariachi band will also be featured from 4 to 5 p.m. in the pop-up plaza at the corner of Dock Street and SE Pioneer Way.

“[We] are thrilled to announce the inaugural Dia de Fiesta, a Hispanic Heritage Festival, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month,” Magi Aguilar, executive director of the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said in response to emailed questions from Whidbey Weekly. “Oak Harbor, known for its vibrant celebrations, from Holland Happening, St. Patrick’s Day, to Independence Day, is about to welcome a new and exciting addition to its roster of festivities.”

Planning for this event has been going on for quite a while and Aguilar said she feels certain it is something that will catch on with the community.

“Maria Diaz approached me a year ago with the idea of a Hispanic Heritage Festival during Hispanic Heritage Month,” she shared. “We’ve been connecting and collaborating with Main Street’s Executive Director, Margaret Livermore, to make it happen.

“We received a great response from the public on social media, so we knew we were going to make it happen for our community,” Aguilar continued. “This is the first event of its kind in Oak Harbor, so it will be smaller than what we’re used to. We wanted to create an authentic event with traditional vendors and entertainment; this festival will definitely grow in years to come.”

There is no cost to attend the festival and there will be food and items for sale. In addition, many businesses will be joining in the festivities as well.

“[There will be] traditional Hispanic foods, face painting, mariachi music, and Hispanic vendors,” shared Aguilar. “Many stores on Pioneer will be joining the celebration. For example, Noe Jose Cafe will be highlighting a traditional Albondigas soup, Popsies will be featuring horchata flavored items and more.”

Diaz said this first-time event will serve to highlight all the positive aspects of Oak Harbor’s diversity.  

“Our town thrives as a mosaic of diverse cultures, with each festival weaving a story of our shared legacy,” she said. “Events such as the Hispanic Heritage Festival not only offer a platform to enjoy and embrace Hispanic arts, dance, and delicacies but play an equally essential role in promoting mutual respect, understanding, and unity among all residents. These occasions enlighten attendees about the profound traditions and histories that enrich our communal life.

“I envision more than just a gathering,” Diaz continued. “I see an opportunity where attendees can immerse themselves in the Hispanic culture and come away with an enriched understanding of the values and narratives of the Hispanic community. My hope is for attendees to leave with a newfound or deeper reverence for Hispanic heritage, recognizing the myriad tales, challenges, and triumphs that have melded our community, and to carry these lessons into their everyday interactions.”

Aguilar said events like this serve to benefit the business community as well as the community at large.

“As we gear up for 2024, our goal is to connect our community by empowering our members to grow and be successful,” she said. “New events like the Hispanic Heritage Festival will not only expose our community to a vibrant culture but give our businesses an opportunity to get involved and support new activities and programs. Events like this bring people together and allow us to create another reason for visitors to travel to Whidbey and experience Oak Harbor.”

Look for more information about Dia de Fiesta at oakharborchamber.com and oakharbormainstreet.org.

“Events such as Dia de Fiesta celebrate cultural diversity in our community and allow people to connect, interact and build relationships among one another and with our visitors,” Aguilar said. “Oak Harbor is a perfect place for celebrations such as this because of the military diversity in our community, and our historic downtown is the perfect venue! My hope is for our community to attend and experience the culture and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in our one-of-a-kind town.”