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Barbecue chicken, arroz con gandules and pernil asado were among the items on the menu at the Puerto Rican festival at Stapleton Central Park in Denver today. The two-day festival showcases the music, food and culture of "The Island of Enchantment."

Hundreds of people endured the hot temperatures to enjoy traditional dishes, live salsa music and participate in a variety of contests. The male hula hoop contest had the crowd cheering and laughing as the contestants got creative with their moves. In the end, Peter Lugo, of Denver, won the contest.

Carlos Ruiz and his 8-year-old daughter, Faith, of Aurora, took some time to buy a few souvenirs from local vendors. The festival provides an opportunity to share his culture with his children, he said.

Barbeque chicken was one of the dishes served at the Puerto Rican festival in Denver on June 9, 2012.
Barbeque chicken was one of the dishes served at the Puerto Rican festival in Denver on June 9, 2012. (Laressa Watlington/Viva Colorado)

"It feels great being here, it is once a year. I wish it was more than once a year," he said. "I miss Puerto Rico, it has been nine years since I have not seen anyone there."

Several organizations, such as Voto Latino, the National Latino Peace Officers Association and the Asociación Centroamericana Unida (Central American Organization United), were offering information about upcoming events.

According to the 2010 Census, there are about 23,000 Puerto Ricans in Colorado. About 1,000 people attend the event annually, according to organizer Sandimar Timberman, originally of Caguas, Puerto Rico.

"For us to share our culture with the community is huge", she said. "I've been in Colorado for 18 years so it is nice to have this because we get to meet up with people who we see every year."


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Puerto Rico is an archipelago of islands located in the northeastern Caribbean. It is known officially as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The island has an autonomous government headed by an elected governor. Both English and Spanish is spoken on the island.

The festival continues tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Read more about the Puerto Rican community in Denver.

A Taste of Puerto Rico Festival

A Puerto Rican man enjoys salsa music at the Taste of Puerto Rico Festival in Denver on June 9, 2012.
A Puerto Rican man enjoys salsa music at the Taste of Puerto Rico Festival in Denver on June 9, 2012. (Laressa Watlington/Viva Colorado)

When: June 9 and 10, 10 a.m.
Where: Stapleton Central Park, 9225 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Denver
Information: atasteofpuertoricofestival.com, 303.667.4031