What to expect at Fiestas Puertorriqueñas (Puerto Rican festival)
Photos: Daniel Montelongo
Founded in 1964, this six-day Humboldt Park festival annually celebrates the Puerto Rican heritage of the neighborhood denizens. The fest offers the usual food-on-a-stick fare, but just outside of the park boundaries the neighborhood gives the fete its unique identity: Giant Puerto Rican flags drape over windows and chatty families watch the action from lawn chairs.
The festival offers a main stage at the back of the park that features a mix of local and national bands that perform what festival organizers call “Puerto Rican culture music.” Dotting the park, several tents hawk products and blare their own music, which ranges from salsa to rap and alternative rock. Each tent feels like your own private (very loud!) radio station.
Relax and forget about your year round diet. It’s summer, and this festival is going to help you forget about calorie counting. Vendors stationed along California Avenue offer homemade arts and crafts and, of course, food. Choose from deep-fried corndogs, funnel cakes, and, my favorite, steak on a stick. But you came to this festival to sample authentic Puerto Rican cuisine: Try empanadas stuffed with pork, Caribbean jerk chicken or lemon-flavored snow cones. And, for English-only speakers, one tent simply says Latin Food. Once you finish chowing down, visit one of the many tents selling alcohol-free piña coladas in real pineapples.
Kids surround the usual carnival rides including the Tiltawhirl, the Inverter, and, my favorite ride name ever, the Matterhorn. Vendors sell items ranging from homemade bracelets to spray painted t-shirts. If you only have a few hours to catch the madness, we recommend you head to the fest after the neighborhood-wide parade on Saturday, June 19, which starts at Columbus and Balbo and begins at noon.
Fiestas Puertorriqueñas runs through Sunday June 20
Find info on dozens of fests in our Summer Festival Guide