Editorial: Viva el Sabor

Middlebury’s Riverside Park in the Marbleworks was overwhelmed this past Saturday night as 1,500 or more people flocked to a first-ever “Viva el Sabor” festival that celebrated Central American cuisine created by 14 area women building a business from their culinary skills. The food was delicious and the community support abundant, signs that a business could flourish.

To be there was exciting not just because it was one of the first community activities post-pandemic shutdown, and there were many unexpected folks to see and visit with, but more importantly that the community had turned out specifically to support this group of women — and, in turn, the whole community of Central Americans who have lived and worked in Addison County for years on area farms, but too rarely have the opportunity to be part of the larger whole.

It’s all of our loss, and the community turnout seemed to embrace a more optimistic vision of the future if such events were more frequent and if day-to-day interactions were commonplace.

There are undoubtedly obstacles to overcome, but several community members are out in front of an effort that should be applauded by town officials and joined by business, school and religious leaders, as well as social clubs in communities throughout the county.

That’s a much longer conversation that will take time to develop, but the time is now to bring it out in the open, to push for more interaction — and, importantly, to press for a non-threatening environment for this community so they can live without fear of persecution and freely enjoy the fruits of their labor and ambitions.

For now, the vision of so many Central American area residents enjoying the evening in Middlebury with other locals from throughout the county is a statement to remember — a statement, like the photo on today’s front page heralding this event and the full page of photos inside — that tell a story of fun, hope and optimism.

Let’s work to bring that story to life.

Angelo Lynn

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