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Summertime is when various cultures around Portland celebrate -- and invite neighbors to come participate

DAVID F. ASHTON - Not only is this a fun family event, says Community Coordinator Shea Flaherty-Betin, the festival also supports Latino business development. Kicking off the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which officially began September 15, the Portland Mercado in the Foster-Powell neighborhood hosted their third annual "Taste of Latinoamérica" on Saturday, September 9.

"The Portland Mercado, a Latino culture and small business development hub, puts on this one-day festival every year to promote economic opportunity, culture, art, and the diverse flavors of Latin American regions, as well as to support Latino entrepreneurs," explained its Community Coordinator, Shea Flaherty-Betin. "Here, we have vendors originally from Mexico, all the way to South America.

"Special today, visitors will find Guatemalan and Venezuelan food, in addition to our usual regionally-recognized Colombian, Cuban, and Puerto Rican fare," Flaherty-Betin pointed out. "Also there are artisans, some of whom have come all the way from Mexico to sell products, in addition to local artisans offering handmade items."

Kids' activities at the Portland Mercado included face painting, and crafts led by artisan women from El Salvador. "And, we have live music all day, and on into the evening," Flaherty-Betin observed.

"Events like this one support entrepreneurship in the Latino community, and create jobs and build assets," he said. "Portland Mercado not only brought some $35,000 in economic activity to the neighborhood last year, it also promotes Latino culture!"

With the beautiful late summer weather, as many as 5,000 visitors were estimated to have come through the event. To learn more about the Portland Mercado, visit their website: www.portlandmercado.org

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