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In The Community: Thousands Taste Latin Culture at Ybor City street festival


Come to Tampa, Florida and you’ll find a colorful city overflowing with Latin influences. Festivities such as the Taste of Latino: Music, Food & Wine Festival enticed crowds with the strong flavors of Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

The festival took place on Oct. 20 in Centennial Park in Ybor City.


Vendors sold food, art, clothes and more. Live musicians played and people would just dance in the middle of the crowd.


The event was hosted by the Latin Times Media, a Florida publication focused on providing news and culture to Hispanic and Latino audiences. Latin Times CEO and president, Jolie Gonzales-Padilla created and organized the festival.

One of the premier events was the Top Latino Chef contest.  Chefs pitted their dishes against each other in the paella, tapas, empanadas and tres leche competitions.


Chef Aldo Mosquera bested his competition in the paellas and empanadas categories making him a top winner of Top Latino chef. This completely makes sense since his seafood paellas sent me straight to the pearly white gates.

Caroline Eastman, vice president of marketing at Seven Marketing, had the pleasure of trying  Mosquera’s seafood paella and absolutely loved it too.

She and her friend Allie Serrano, who makes portraits and owns Allie Serrano Portraits, decided to go to the festival on a whim while looking up activities to do in Tampa.

Eastman and Serrano talked about how they both enjoyed getting an up-close look at another culture.  Both loved tasting the mouth-watering food, listening to Latin performers play joyful music, and seeing talented Latin artists colorful art.

Truly if anything stood out from this festival was the bright colors, which matched the high energy of the event.  I was sipping on my Pina Colada the whole time looking at the interesting art, and chatting with locals while roosters and chickens ran around everywhere.

Eastman said the most beautiful moment during the festival was when an older woman danced with a younger man to live music. Eastman thought the man could be her son and emphasized how free she looked while dancing.

“She was glowing and just happy to be alive,” Eastman said.