Vive Minnesota celebrates growing Latino influence on state culture


In reviewing Indio for this week's issue, Rachel Hutton makes an interesting observation about the growing influence of Latino culture on the Twin Cities' foodscape:

In the not so recent past, most Twin Citians who didn't grow up eating Mexican food knew it only in the form of Chi-Chi's or Taco Bell, where "cooking" meant squirting guacamole out of something that looked like a caulking gun. But as the local Latino population has swelled in recent decades, authentic Mexican cuisine has flourished. El Burrito Mercado moved to its iconic Concord Street space; Mercado Central brought south Minneapolis a lively Latin American marketplace; and the local Scandinavian stock learned to enjoy Mexican food at places that didn't tone down the spice or drown dishes in dairy.

Rachel is spot on. Those looking to explore more than just the culinary aspects of Latino culture should check out this weekend's Vive Minnesota (full disclosure: City Pages is among the media sponsors). A three-day festival of music, art, and food, the monster event differentiates itself from similarly-themed celebrations by ignoring borders.

"Our idea was really to celebrate the diversity within the Latino community," says Michael Robles, the festival director, who immigrated to the States from Lima, Peru, when he was just a 3-year-old boy. "We're so proud of our heritage and our culture that we have a tendency to celebrate individual countries, so we really wanted to bring it all together."

Robles points out that the Twin Cities actually has a more diverse (albeit smaller) Latino population than Miami, San Antonio, or Los Angeles, and the artists on stage at this event hail from a virtual United Nations of Latin America, including Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela (headliners include Salsa del Soul, Ticket to Brazil, Maria Isa, and Andres Prado). Other local musicians, including Desdamona, bring a Latin-infused repertoire.

"We want to grow it to the point where we have international stars that come here," says Robles, who along with co-founder Mario Duarte plans to make the festival an annual event, "but at the core it's always going to be our local talent."


In addition to music (30 acts spread over two stages), there will also be a kids' play area, a Corona VIP skybox, and yes, food. Just don't expect Taco Bell.

Admission is free (though the VIP skybox will cost you). Directions here. Schedule here.