The words “music” and “food” paired together sound like the perfect summer night. Salsa Sal Pa’Fuera gives you just that every Sunday through September. The event, founded by Peter Delgado, invites people to come together and enjoy cultural music, arts, and food representing several Latin American countries. Located at Springfield’s Riverfront Park, the event invites the city to celebrate and share their culture and traditions with other families in the community. 

Connecting Point’s Zydalis Bauer spoke with Delgado and DEI Strategic Advisor Waleska Lugo-DeJesús to learn more about the purpose and opportunities that Salsa Sal Pa’Fuera brings to the community and its residents.

Read the Full Transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: This summer marked the return of the annual cultural event Salsa Sal Pa’Fuera. Now, in its fifth year, every Sunday through September, the community is invited to enjoy cultural music, arts and food, representing several Latin American countries at Springfield’s Riverfront Park. I spoke with the event’s founder, Peter Delgado, and DEI Strategic Advisor Waleska Lugo-Dejesu to learn more about the purpose and the opportunities that Salsa Sal Pa’Fuera brings to the city and its residents.

Peter Delgado, Founder/Chair: This was something that came about when I used to work at the radio station locally here in Springfield, and as I crossed the bridge towards West Springfield, where the radio station was located at, I would look and glance to the marina, which at some point was abandoned. And then, you know, they kind of did some renovations and they put some money into that park and they made it a beautiful park. But essentially, I would look at that location and I would dream about, you know, a cultural event, you know, where people can join and maybe learn about each other and learn about the culture and maybe bring, you know, their offsprings, their kids, their family members and – and learn about culture. Because I – truth be told, I am into the culture and Spanish music and I want to keep that alive.

I know that we’re here in America and sometimes we forget about where we came from. So I think that knowing where you came from and knowing who you are is very important, especially for younger people. And the other part is that I’m a DJ and I’ve been a DJ for a long time. And so I want to incorporate both of those things. You know, the music, the arts, the cultural, the networking – which I think is very important. Moving forward, some time I made the approach to the Parks and Recs department about, you know, DJing there outside and live and that’s how it all started. It started from, you know, a thought – and, you know, we we made it a reality.

Zydalis Bauer: Now, you really brought the culture with this event. As you mentioned, there’s music, there’s food, there’s arts, there’s a lot of dancing and there’s a lot of representation of more than just the Puerto Rican culture at these events. So talk to me about the atmosphere and what people can expect attending one of these Salsa Sal Pa’Fuera events.

Peter Delgado: So the atmosphere is really a diverse group of people that join us every week. We have everyone in all walks of life, right, that just mix up there for the purpose of enjoying the salsa genre. You know, I think the salsa genre is known globally and a lot of people take a liking to it. So we try to incorporate, you know, the musicality part, the dancing, and we also try to, you know, teach other people about our culture, you know, you know, the live music. And and it works out really well.

Zydalis Bauer: Speaking about the salsa genre, this year’s kick off was in honor of iconic Puerto Rican salsa singer songwriter Hector Tricoche, who sadly recently passed away this year. For those who might not be familiar with him, can you share a little bit of background and why it was so important to dedicate this to him?

Peter Delgado: Hector Tricoche comes from a background of salseros – salsa singers, and he really left a legacy behind in terms of presenting his music and his culture around the world. He came from different bands and eventually he went as a solo artist and he was very successful. So I, I couldn’t help but to render him an honor, right? And especially where this is a salsa singer, an iconic one that is from Puerto Rico and has traveled the world and he’s living here in Springfield at the moment.

We really held the tribute to them, you know, musically, we played a medley of their – of his songs, you know, old and new, right? And we also recognized the family that they were gracious enough to to join us at the park. And, you know, we kind of let people know that how we felt and people received it really well and the family was very happy with that.

Zydalis Bauer: Yeah, it just really shows the connection that the city of Springfield still has to the island of Puerto Rico. And so, Waleska I really wanted to talk to you because this event couldn’t happen without the collaboration of city officials, influencers, vendors, but, I know that this has a really positive impact on the economic value, especially for the Latino community. So talk to me about the benefit of this event in that community.

Waleska Lugo-DeJesus, DEI Strategic Advisor: I’m going to start by just saying that Peter was extremely humble. He is not just a DJ. And so, you know, I met Peter about 19 years ago, and I was a guest on one of the shows for the only Spanish radio station. And I remember feeling like this person was so thoughtful, but also very driven to just share – he kept saying, you know, please come back, we have – we can feature things every week, our Latino community needs to know. And – and so, I see him more as an activist, using his voice through the venue of being a DJ. And so and then fast forward, he was actually the DJ in my wedding, which is years ago — So, so full circle.

I know that I wanted to support, especially because all jokes aside, the Puerto Rican community in the Pioneer Valley is home to over 69,000 people. And somebody can fact check that because I’m probably undercounting us. But I’m from the generation that came into Springfield in the eighties – and so we’re educators, lawyers, politicians, beauticians, quinceanera shops, florists, clothing, activists, entrepreneurs, doctors, nurses and you write host and – and producer of shows. So we – we – one of the things that we do right is that we continue – we contribute to the economic revenue of this and the tax revenue of the city.

Waleska Lugo-DeJesus: We provide employment and we create wealth – so we’re here and we’re growing and we’re going to stay. But this cultural event is – is really important because it’s an opportunity to have I’m going to call it social emotional development, right? This is a multigenerational event. So the older generation comes in and it reminds them of their roots. The younger generation comes in and it connects them to their past, to their ancestors, but it also teaches them traditions about specifically the Puerto Rican community, but about the Latino community as a whole.

So for other community members, this really does offer a lens that can help strengthen the unity within who we are. So this was personal to me because my conversations earlier this year, because it was a full year of planning and wasn’t easy, is that I knew that we we were coming out of a double pandemic, right? That we had COVID 19 and we have this elevated awareness of racism – and all of these things were happening every time we turned on the TV. So for me, a festival, a cultural event, Salsa Sal Pa’Fuera is an opportunity to to fight stereotypes and and and to bring the community together when we were so in need of that human connection.

Zydalis Bauer: And so celebrating five years of Salsa Sal Pa’Fuera this year, what do you each hope for the future for this community event going forward?

Peter Delgado: So we’re hoping to, you know, make this event a lot bigger. We’re hoping to bring live acts where children can actually see live music performances, you know, and, you know, build on that, you know. And if while that’s going I wanted to add anything I missed.

Waleska Lugo-DeJesus: Our hope is really to expand the world of people – and so, collaboration, learning from each other, empowering, transforming really is, is, is our hope. But the call to action is to go – like we want people to attend. So every Sunday at 4:00, from 4 to 9:00 pm at the Riverfront in Springfield, Massachusetts, we fundraise at the event because we couldn’t make it possible if we can’t again, right? Reinvest in the community and and pay for everything that we have to cover in terms of expenses.

But but my call to action is just that that you attend, expose yourself to something different, learn about our culture and and continue to celebrate and dance.