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Sustaining the Culture: Meet the man behind Lafayette's Latin Music Festival.Entertainment/Life

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A few years ago, while driving home in El Paso, Luis Mora heard music playing. He stopped, listened to music, and found a mariachi band.

“What time do we finish here?” Mora asked.

Nine, they said to him.

“What are you doing after that?” Mora said. “Would you like to come to my house?”

There were many family members in his house. He lined them up and told them to go outside.

“Every Latino who was listening to them came to listen,” Mora said.

Mora, 84, has brought home Latin music over the years. He started his ACLA (Asociación Cultural Latino Acadiana) in 2000 and his Latin music festival in 2002.

After a two-year hiatus, the Asociación Cultural Latino-Acadiana, ACLA and Festival International de Louisiane will revive the music festival on October 1st at Parc International. This event celebrates Latin culture. Attendees can experience the culture through authentic food, music, art vendors, activities for children, and more.

Mora founded the Latino-Acadiana Cultural Association. Because he is passionate about preserving Hispanic and Latinx cultures and helping these communities.

A native of Colombia, Mora studied English in Vermont and began her education at Miami-Dade College in Florida. In 1964, his father sent him to study architecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

At the time, UL had about 700 Latinos from Central America, Venezuela and Colombia, Mora said. The Latino population has grown rapidly and is still growing.

Lafayette was different back then. You can enter the restaurant and pay with a blank check, Mora said. The oil industry was booming.

“It’s a great place to live, but it’s still changed a lot,” Mora said. “We have grown a lot.”

After graduating, Mora designed storefront skyscrapers at Starline and metal buildings at Lee Packard before working for an engineering firm that went bankrupt. He also met and married his wife in Lafayette.

“Through sheer luck,” Mora joined Exxon, where he worked for 35 years.

“I was very lucky because the whole field was growing and they had a lot of opportunities,” Mora said.

After Mora retired from Exxon, he was invited to join the Board of Directors of Festival International. There, Mora recalls meeting a lawyer who recently learned that he has Spanish roots. But the lawyer grew up thinking he was French all his life.

“sad [for him]said Mora. “Not only had he lost his language, he had lost most of the Spanish culture.”

This conversation, along with his work on the Board of Directors of Festival International, inspired Mora to launch the Latin Music Festival. The festival started as a volunteer-run event to help raise funds for ACLA. Eventually, the city recognized this festival, and from 2019, it collaborated with Festival International to support the planning.

“It takes time, dedication and lots of volunteers in the beginning,” said former ACLA president and current volunteer Jasmine Carrizal. “Lewis has worked hard over the years to grow the city and is now part of it. Through his tenacity and his belief in all that needs to continue. We have been able to continue embracing the culture in a beautiful way through dance and food and now they are sponsoring us.”

Mora specifically chose the dates of the festival to mark the first Saturday in October as Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on September 15th and ends on October 15th. .

The festival has been canceled for the last two years due to COVID. One year it rained seven times. In the past, there have been performers, young and old. Among the performers included a seven-year-old dancer and a young Cuban singer.

“If you dare, let me try,” Mora said.

In addition to hosting the Latin Music Festival, ACLA volunteers at Second Harvest, organizes trips to the New Orleans Consulate, works with the Lafayette Parish School System and its Spanish Immersion Program, and reaches out to the community about COVID vaccines. We carry out community activities such as providing information on

“He was always trying to do something for the Hispanic community and [on] ACLA Volunteer and Past Director Vanessa Paredes said:

In founding ACLA, Mora brought together professionals from diverse backgrounds, including teachers, architects and real estate professionals, to serve on a board of associates.

Carrizal, a former teacher and former ACLA board member and president, met Mora at church through a mutual friend. She has worked with him on many events. Despite the stress of planning, she said he never spoke up. He was humble, patient, and never thought twice before helping.

Paredes is currently an ACLA volunteer, but has been professionally involved with ACLA for nine years. She helped raise funds, worked on many campaigns, and contributed to her ACLA efforts to educate the community. Mora started food drives during her COVID, she adds.

Mora was a supporter of Lafayette’s Spanish Immersion Program. He believes learning a language is important, but has not been able to sustain it with his children.Of his three children, only one learned Spanish. he was the only one. He blames geography.

“We didn’t want them to lose that language, that culture, etc,” Mora said. “You should be comfortable on both sides. I made that mistake in myself. Because I did.