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Food, family and fun is what Latin culture is all about, says La Isla publisher Eric Esquivel, and there was plenty of each to go around at the magazine's inaugural Super International Fiesta in Bluffton's Sheridan Park on Sunday.
The festival, held in honor of the opening of the new 22,000-square-foot El Super International grocery store on Sherington Drive, also served as a showcase for a growing number of local Hispanic-owned businesses.
As traditional dancers in long skirts danced to pulsing Latin beats, festivalgoers munched on treats such as corn on the cob with mayonnaise and grated cheese. Performances throughout the afternoon included Mexican guitarists and a variety of dance groups, while savory smoke from grilled chorizo and carne asada filled the air.
La Isla magazine organized the festival to give Bluffton a little Latin flavor and introduce consumers to new businesses that they might not know about, Esquivel said.
"We at La Isla specialize in helping people reach the Latino consumer," he said. "The next step of our evolution is to bring new customers to Latino-owned businesses."
The new El Super grocery store, stocked with imported products hard to find elsewhere, was the perfect location for that endeavor, Esquivel said.
"I've had so many Americans pass by here today who said they've driven by before but never noticed the store," he said. "They were like, 'Wow, this is great!'"
Entrepreneurs such as Carolina Hurtado of Hilton Head Island, who makes jewelry using items such dried fish scales, set up booths around the festival to show off their wares.
Hurtado said she is expanding her operation and will soon display her jewelry in an art gallery space in Savannah's City Market.
Events such as Sunday's festival help business owners like Hurtado get bigger while bringing different cultures together, said George Kanuck of the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition
The festival also highlighted the economic importance of South Carolina's Latinos, Kanuck said. Latino's purchasing power in 2010 totaled $4.5 billion in the Palmetto State, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia -- and that number will continue to grow, Kanuck predicted.