Holyoke’s Fiestas Patronales pays homage to festival celebrated in Puerto Rico

Organizers Priscilla Rivera of City Sports Bar (front left), Juan Uribe of El Paraiso Colombiano Restaurant, Melvin Sanchez of Bomba Radio, and Luis Rivera (back left) and Juan Montano of Fiesta Cafe, at Uribe’s restaurant stand for Fiesta Patronales de Holyoke. (Nirvani Williams / NEPM)

Local business owners in Holyoke, Massachusetts, are paying homage to a Puerto Rican festival of the saints this weekend by having their own celebration in the city’s downtown.

Commonly known as Fiestas Patronales, the annual celebration is a prominent festival in Puerto Rico where each municipality on the island celebrates one saint.

This is the first Fiestas Patronales organized in Holyoke. Melvin Sanchez is on the board of directors for Fiestas Patronales de Holyoke and said it was important to have local vendors from many Latin American cultures organize the event.

“There used to be other festivals done in Holyoke, but it’s never been a diverse group,” Sanchez said. “I think the fact that there’s a diversity in us, amongst us, in the committee, I think that’s what made it even more successful.”

Mayor Joshua Garcia, the first Puerto Rican mayor of Holyoke, said celebrating Puerto Rican pride in this way brings the community together.

“To know that Patronales is being formed and organized in the city just continues to cultivate pride,” Garcia said in an interview last month. “I try to do what I can to tap into people’s pride, because that’s what builds community.”

The festival runs through Sunday on Heritage Street in downtown Holyoke.

This story was originally published by New England Public Media, a partner of the New England News Collaborative.