Larger-than-usual crowds celebrated Elgin's Puerto Rican spirit Saturday during the 19th annual BoriquaFest at Festival Park.
The festival celebrates the island's culture and traditions with a day of music, food and fun for the entire family, said Rosemarie Ramos, president of the Puerto Rican Heritage Organization.
A downpour hit the area shortly after the fest opened, but Ramos said participants barely missed a beat.
"At first everyone went under the tents. Then the DJ started playing music and people were dancing in the rain," she said. "We're not going to let anything stop us."
The decision to move this year's celebration to the park from its usual location near The Centre of Elgin paid off because attendance seemed to be up, she said.
Nelson Velazquez, of Carpentersville, relished the chance to expose his grandchildren, 5-year-old Pedro and 3-year-old Neilani, to his native roots. "I always bring the spirit of Puerto Rico to them," he said. "It's a small island, but it's a great heritage."
The festival featured booths selling typical Puerto Rican food such as arroz con lechon (rice with pork), alcapurria (beef-filled fritters), rellenos de papa (stuffed potatoes), and beverages that included coconut water and pina coladas.
Several artists had their works for sale, including Elgin-based "Cuca," whose specialty is working with papier-mâché.
"The Puerto Rican people are a combination of the Taino Indians, the Spaniards and the Africans, and I like to represent all of it," she said.
Maria De Los Angeles Borrero, 21, who was crowned Miss Puerto Rican Heritage Organization for 2011-12, said she was pleasantly surprised to find she could connect with her heritage after she moved to Elgin from her native land three years ago.
"My goal is to have workshops for kids to teach them about Puerto Rican culture in creative and fun ways," she said.