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Salvadoran fest expects more than 30,000

"There are just so many of us," a local artist said. "We have our own style for everything, from music to food to art and entertainment.” (Aug. 7, 2011) Credit: Charles Eckert

Officers from four Salvadoran community organizations have announced plans for a sixth Salvadoran American Day Festival in August they expect will attract more than 30,000 people to the Village of Hempstead.

The festival has been growing as the Salvadoran community has surged on Long Island. More than 66,000 Salvadorans live in the region, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates, part of a community that is more than 155,000 strong in New York.

The yearly celebration is organized by the Salvadoran nonprofits Empresarios Por El Cambio, New York Soccer Latin Academy, Red de Comunidades Salvadoreñas and Comité Cívico Salvadoreño de Nueva York -- all based in Hempstead Village. Those groups raise $50,000 in sponsorships and booth rentals to keep the event free to the public.

"Our most important accomplishment has been to highlight the positive image of Salvadorans," said Elizabeth Oliveira, head of the Red organization. "We are hard and dedicated workers . . . and we contribute to the economic growth of this country."

The festival will take place Aug. 5, starting at noon, at Front Street and Washington Avenue. The organizing committee will also host a ceremonial hoisting of the Salvadoran flag on Aug. 2 in Brentwood, an afternoon of children's games at Hempstead's Kennedy Memorial Park on Aug. 3, and a soccer tournament on Aug. 4 in Uniondale.

Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. said he welcomes the festival. "It gives the residents of Hempstead who don't know the culture of El Salvador an opportunity to taste the foods, see the customs and meet the people" from that country.

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