The largest Latino festival in the Midwest, Fiesta del Sol, is back in Chicago for its 44th year.
Fiesta del Sol begins in the city's Pilsen neighborhood Thursday evening, with more than a million visitors expected to attend before the event's end on Sunday.
The theme for the 2016 festival is “our voice, our future, our power.” In addition to food, art, entertainment and a carnival, Fiesta del Sol aims to bring positive change to the community by offering a variety of resources, workshops, activities and family-friendly events.
New this year is "College Day," to be held Friday. The day will provide free workshops, financial aid resources, and a college fair to give attendees ways to further their education and a create a path to move on to study at a university.
“Pilsen is smackdown in the middle of a Hispanic community and we’re trying to gear toward the children of the next generation,” Fiesta Del Sol's communications coordinator Melissa Salinas said. “We see a small percentage of Hispanics enrolled in these schools and we want to increase that.”
Another resource the festival will host this year is its first expungement workshop on Saturday. An expungement helps to seal records that have prevented someone from getting a job, living in a certain location or getting a loan, among other things.
“We just don’t want people to shy away from the fact that they can get help,” Salinas said. “We want to give back to the community in a way that you don’t have to go to city hall and you don’t have to go to an English speaking [facility]. It’s kind of scary if you don’t speak that language, so we are catering that to our Spanish speakers.”
Fiesta del Sol, located at 1400 W. Cermak Road, is a free to attend. The festival will be open Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.