Perry Latino Fest cancelled in wake of Tibbetts murder

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The 2015 ¡Viva Perry! Latino Festival brought culture, communication - and tons of food and fun to downtown Perry Saturday.


Hispanics United for Perry (HUP) announced Thursday afternoon its decision to postpone the ¡Viva Perry! Latino Festival 2018 scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25.

The HUP statement said the murder of Mollie Tibbetts and subsequent arrest have shocked and saddened all Iowans and HUP, along with the Iowa City Latino Festival, has cancelled Saturday’s planned Latino Fest out of respect for Tibbett’s family and friends.

“In making this decision, we considered all the work that went into planning and promoting that has already occurred,” said Rosa Gonzalez of Perry, HUP president and ISU Extension and Outreach specialist in family life and human sciences. “We apologize for any inconvenience to all who made plans to attend the festival. It is hard to cancel a joyous event celebrating the Latino heritage of many of Perry’s residents.”

Jon Wolseth, HUP member and community development specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said the politicization of the Tibbetts case was a factor in the cancellation. When the Iowa City festival was cancelled, HUP followed suit, he said.

“Given our concern over the national dialogue surrounding the Mollie Tibbetts case, we felt it prudent to cancel the event for Saturday,” Wolseth said. “We’re holding open the possibility of rescheduling at some future date.”

Perry Public Library Director Mary Murphy, a member of the HUP board, said the decision to cancel this year’s annual event “came down to safety.” Murphy said the “fury” whipped up by anti-immigrant statements made in the wake of the arrest of Tibbett’s alleged murderer was a concern to HUP members.

Wolseth said the ladies of La Poste have volunteered to help find alternative venues at upcoming Perry events for the local food vendors, some of whom might have taken a loss on the Perry cancellation. Other planned Latino festivals this fall around Iowa include the Davenport and Council Bluffs celebrations set for on Sept. 8 and the Des Moines festival scheduled for Sept. 22.

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