Hablamos Español in Elgin to have first salsa tasting

  • The 13th annual Hablamos Español Expo is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way.

    The 13th annual Hablamos Español Expo is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way. Daily Herald FILE PHOTO

Updated 9/26/2017 4:44 PM

For the first time the annual Hablamos Español Expo in Elgin will take place during Hispanic Heritage Month and will feature a salsa tasting challenge.

"Obviously (September) is a big celebration of Hispanic heritage and culture, and we wanted to align ourselves with that," said Jason Pawlowski, director of marketing and special events for the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce.


The Expo, a showcase of businesses and organizations that want to reach the Latino community, is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the Heritage Ballroom at the Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way. It is organized by the chamber in partnership with the city and Reflejos, the sister publication of the Daily Herald.

"It's an opportunity for both our members and Elgin's business in general to build a bridge to the Hispanic community," he said. "Elgin is so diverse and has so many consumers that you want to make sure you are hitting the different demographics."

Restaurants participating in the salsa tasting challenge include El Camaroncito Loco, La Jaiba Loca, Nany Mexican Grill, Cilantro Grill, Taqueria Chapala and Chorizo Grill.

Ballet Folklorico Girasol will kick off the festivities at 10 a.m., followed by Ballet Folklorico Huehuecoyotl's dance and folk music at 10:30 a.m. There will be kids' activities, including face painting and a cartoon character photo booth, and at least 25 vendor tables staffed by people who speak English and Spanish, Pawlowski said.

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Attendees 21 and older who complete event "passports" -- by garnering seven stamps from Expo vendors and completing the tasting challenge -- can enter a drawing for tickets to a concert Oct. 7 featuring Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias, or a concert Oct. 8 featuring Ricardo Arjona, both at Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

The prizes are expected to be a big draw, Pawlowski said. "I can't tell you how much social media reach we've had with people saying they want to come just to win the tickets."

Hablamos Español typically takes place the first weekend in March, with the last one in 2016 attracting an estimated 500 to 600 people. Organizers will decide whether to continue doing it in September, when there are more competing events, based on attendance and vendor feedback, Pawlowski said. "We hope everyone comes out and enjoys it."


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