With guitars strumming in the air and flamenco dancers on hand, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden launched its homage to Latin American culture on the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which stretches from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
The ¡Celebramos! lineup of events is entering its second year and has become an annual celebration for the garden. For the next month, visitors will see changes to the garden’s decor, including an art installation of Frida Kahlo’s famed Mexico City home, La Casa Azul. “Flora of Latin America,” an exhibit of watercolor paintings, pen drawings and other prints, will be on display through Nov. 30.
Visitors arrived in the Fuller Garden Sept. 15 to enjoy Mexican pastries and food from Los Vaqueros as Patrick Newman, the garden’s chief executive, told the crowd why his organization has invested resources into celebrating Hispanic culture.
“It’s really important to us at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden that this be a place where the community can gather and where everyone feels as though they authentically belong,” Newman said.
Over the past year, the garden has collected community feedback on its 20-year master plan, with a final draft released in late August. During those listening sessions, Newman said culturally specific celebrations, including ¡Celebramos! and Japanese festivals, will help ensure that the garden attracts a more diverse crowd.
“How can we get more people to come from different areas and where do we need to conduct outreach to really make sure that more of the community is viewing this as the local treasure that it is?” Newman told the Report in February. “Our hope is that if all of us individually make small changes, collectively we can make some really significant changes in our community.”
As part of its agreement with the city of Fort Worth to operate the garden, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas must offer free or reduced admission to at least 10% of visitors to the garden.
Several of the ¡Celebramos! events will be free to the public, including a celebration of quinceañeras on Sept. 17, the Mariposa Market Sept.24-25 and Dia de la Familia on Oct 1. Some of the events require reservations, including a family movie night screening of Disney’s “Encanto” at 8 p.m. Oct. 1.
The series will wrap up in mid-October with two showings of the Fort Worth Opera’s “¡Bienvenidos!” production and an adult-only party in the Leonard Courtyard, near the replication of Kahlo’s La Casa Azul. Guests are encouraged to dress like Kahlo, according to the garden’s website.
The garden hopes to do justice to the rich history of the Hispanic community in Fort Worth, Newman said.
“If you’ve ever been to anything like the Dia de Los Muertos parade on the Northside, if you’ve ever been to La Gran Plaza … you understand that there is a life and a vibrancy and a depth of culture and history there,” Newman said. “We really wanted to embrace and celebrate that.”
Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from the Marilyn Brachman Hoffman Foundation. Contact her by email or via Twitter.
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter.
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