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Peruse Peru

Celebrate the Peruvian way of life with dancing and food.

Aimee Williams July 24th, 2013

Peruvian Independence Day Festival
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads
7000 Crossroads

Sunday marks the official Peruanos en Oklahoma Friendship Day, but you can celebrate a day early at Saturday’s Peruvian Independence Day Festival at the Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads, previously known as Crossroads Mall.

The festivities have been organized by Peruanos en Oklahoma (Peruvians in Oklahoma), which has been connecting Oklahomans to local Peruvian culture since 1992.

Carlos Ortiz, director of Peruanos en Oklahoma and chief editor at El Nacional Media and Noticias Oklahoma, relocated from Peru to Oklahoma in 1990 and has been active in the community as a bilingual reporter and editor.

“I spent my last 23 years in Oklahoma, and it is time for us to use the Peru-Oklahoma Friendship proclamation for the good of Oklahoma and for the good for Peru,” Ortiz said. “This is a great start toward a conversation between cultures, which has been needed for a long time. Oklahoma has a lot to offer Peruvians, Latin Americans and everyone, so we want to celebrate that together.”

He said the festival promises to turn mid-summer boredom into a fun and culturally enlightening experience.

“For people who say there’s nothing to do in Oklahoma this summer, this festival is for them. This is for everyone to have fun experiencing our culture. We believe there’s going to be a great turnout. There’s Peruvian music and great food,” said Ortiz.

Best of all, food vendors will be on-site with some of Peru’s culinary offerings, featuring Oklahoma-based chef Luz Marina Abanto, as well as other renowned Peruvian chefs.

Traditional fare from the South American republic tends to be colorful and tasty, and Ortiz said to expect tamales, ceviches, and juanes — a tamale-type item that originates from the jungles.

“Peruvian tamales are regular tamales, but they are huge — huge with meat and everything inside. Something [else] that’s really good is called lucuma,” a Peruvian fruit ice cream, he said. “It’s really, really something that’s going to be unique, and there’s a Peruvian guy who is going to produce that here in Oklahoma.”

The event features music from Spanish rock bands, Clips ’n Hips Dance Group and many other local talents. In addition, an awards ceremony will honor influential local Peruvians, including Tulsa Community College professor Tina Peña and animal rights activist Willy Domenack.

“We choose the people we think best represent and contribute to the Peruvian community,” said Ortiz.

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