Oct 24, 2013 3:20 PM by MELISSA CANONE

2013 El Festival Espanol de Nueva Iberia

The City of New Iberia was founded on the banks of the Bayou Teche by a group of Spaniards from Malaga in 1779. New Iberia is the only extant town in Louisiana to be founded by Spaniards during the Colonial Era. In consideration of their homeland, the Spanish pioneers called their town "Nueva Iberia". And in celebration of these founding fathers, a new event was created last year to celebrate this history ~ El Festival Español de Nueva Iberia and a new organization was founded entitled, "La. Asociación Española de Nueva Iberia.

With heritage and culture being two of the most important aspects of life in this area, the second annual El Festival Español de Nueva Iberia will be celebrated in New Iberia's Downtown Historic Cultural District on Saturday, November 16, 2013.

El Festival Español de Nueva Iberia's mission is to celebrate the 1779 founding of New Iberia by the Spanish, to create an educational and cultural exchange of food, music, art and history between New Iberia and the Andalusia region of Spain, and to recognize the contributions of the original Spanish settlers to our culture.

The Steering Committee's mission statement embodies both Louisiana and the City of New Iberia's history relative to Spanish influence not only to celebrate, but also to provide educational components, art and cultural opportunities and historical facts. Over the last year and the next several months in preparing to host this event, we have been building long-term international relationships, many of which were non-existent prior to the creation of this event.

Mayor Hilda D. Curry traveled to Spain in 2011 to take part in a twinning ceremony between the cities of Alhaurin de la Torre and New Iberia. During this visit, Alhaurin Mayor Joaquin Villanova stated that, "a brother goes far beyond the exchange of flags, gifts and visits of courtesy. A partnership means, in this case, the opening of many doors, the birth of great friendships, the emergence of some indelible ties, building bridges of friendship, respect and understanding between Spain and the United States from two small towns. The twinning opens up new business opportunities and tourism, artistic and cultural exchange, mutual understanding between young students which will result in a strengthening of friendship among people, through knowledge."

Those very partnerships are currently being created, as festival committee members continue to meet regularly in order to coordinate events, form organizational partnerships, create educational components, seek sponsorships, research genealogy relative to the founding families and continue to strengthen the bond between the State of Louisiana, the City of New Iberia, and the country of Spain.

Individuals from Spain are again planning to join us for this festival in a concerted effort to offer an educational and cultural exchange of history, food, music, & art. In addition, fifteen (15) Spanish High School exchange students will be traveling to New Iberia for a two week stay during this time. A booth will be set up at the festival by the Spaniards containing materials and items from their country, where these students will be positioned to help share information and answer questions from festival goers. The visiting students will remain throughout the Thanksgiving holiday with their host families. In turn, New Iberia High School students are planning an exchange visit to Spain in the Spring of 2014.

Representing a variety of different organizations in partnership, committee members include La Asociación Española de Nueva Iberia, the New Iberia Main Street Program, the Bayou Teche Museum Foundation; Iberia Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau; the Shadows-on-the-Teche; members of the Acadiana Latin Music Festival (held annually in Lafayette), representatives from the restaurant Pamplona (located in Lafayette) and a variety of volunteers from the community, some with Spanish ties or interests and others who are just excited to join in with the celebration of a new cultural event for New Iberia. Committee members are also communicating with representatives from the Spanish Consulate in Houston, the Education Advisor - Asesora Técnica Docente, LSU and others with Spanish connections. With this year's festival promoting the theme, A History of Bullfighting, two committee members recently traveled to Spain to gather artifacts and materials to use in this year's festival.

Last year's festival presentation was by Jose Manuel de Molina, author of "Historia de Alhaurin de la Torre en la Edad Moderna," who spoke about the history of New Iberia. His lecture helped New Iberians understand their Spanish roots. This year's festival will focus on the history of bullfighting and the New Iberia community will be introduced to this history by festival guest speaker, Dr. Charles Holloway.

Dr. Charles Holloway grew up in the Monroe, Louisiana area and attended Ouachita Parish Schools. He graduated from ULM with majors in Accounting and Spanish. He was awarded the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Louisiana State University. Dr. Holloway taught at Neville High School for two years before joining the faculty at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. He has received numerous teaching awards including a national award as University Teacher of the Year from the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) in 2001. He was also chosen Outstanding Professor of Liberal Arts in 1999, and in 2011 he received the Outstanding Teacher of Arts and Sciences at ULM. In 2012 he was the first faculty member ever chosen for the newly-created ULM Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Holloway's research interests include Louisiana Spanish, sociolinguistics, and language death. His work has been published in various scholarly journals including Hispanic Linguistics, the Southwest Journal of Linguistics, and the Southern Journal of Linguistics. In 2011 his paper was chosen as "Best of Louisiana" at the regional Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT). Dr. Holloway has always worked closely with area foreign language teachers, having served for many years on the Executive Board of the Louisiana Foreign Language Teachers Association (LFLTA) and as president and treasurer of the Antonio Margil Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

Festival plans will also include the annual "Running of the Bulls" 5K race where runners will don bull head-gear or red sashes. A re-enactment of the arrival of the Spaniards and a Paella/Tapas cook-off. Genealogy displays and artifacts from the sixteen (16) original families will also be set up in the Sliman Theater, in addition to exhibits in the Bayou Teche Museum. And of course, a Louisiana festival would not be complete without musical and dance performances. Music will begin at 11:00am with Mariachi Jalisco and then; from 12:30pm - 2:00pm, all will revel and delight in the sights and sounds of Ven PaCa, performing a traditional mix of guitar-led music, singing and dramatic dance from Southern Spain's Andelusia region, including Flamenco dancers. Finishing out the day will be Carol Fran and our very own, Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars. A perfect fit, since band members Roddie and Chad are direct descendants from two of New Iberia's original founding families.

It's just the beginning of this exciting new event that is long overdue in recognizing and celebrating our city's Spanish history. In the future, plans are to invite speakers from Spain to lecture on the history of the Islenos culture and its relation to the Spanish Empire and the formation of the state. Plans are also underway to host the replica of the ship used during the Galvez expedition, which is currently being constructed in a port in Spain, and to extend an invitation to flamenco dancers, including a guitarist to provide a cultural experience to students. Additional plans include hosting an original collection of Picasso entitled, "Picasso, I Alone" from the Remendios Mendina Private Collection in Malaga, Spain in the Sliman Theater and Bayou Teche Museum.

With each day as more of our marketing strategy is put into play, El Festival Español de Nueva Iberia is increasingly piquing the interest of countless individuals. Bringing awareness of New Iberia's history to people near and far will hopefully increase impending travel to our area, ensuring success for this project both now and in the future.

For a list of events click here.

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