Norwich celebrates local Peruvian culture

Norwich -- Franklin Street was decorated with red and white flags, happy music could be heard from miles around and the smell of fresh food wafting through the air drew people downtown Sunday to celebrate the second annual Peruvian Festival.

The festival coincided with the one-year anniversary of Global City Norwich's efforts to revitalize downtown Norwich with cultural festivals and public events. A Polish festival was held last month and the Haitian Cultural Festival is scheduled for Aug. 11. 

Ella Valencia, a local event designer for the Niftal and Friends, celebrated her Peruvian descent by creating a public art display of the Peruvian jungle. It featured handmade mushrooms, jungle trees and costumes representing native birds.

"Peru has three main regions: coast, mountains, and jungle," Valencia said. "The world needs to know my country. It has so much food, customs, dancing and music. It is not just Machu Piccu."

Rebecca Scott, a dog groomer from Groton, also sought to raise awareness. She brought exotic birds native to Peru. She said that in addition to showing off the nature of Peru, she hoped to raise awareness to the fact that most people who get birds are unable to take care of them.

"All the birds I brought with me today are rescues," Scott said. "There are more birds in rescue shelters than dogs and cats. I wanted to raise awareness to that as well as show off my work."

The event came as Peru's celebrated the 198th anniversary of its independence. Vendors filled Franklin Street and people donning red and white jostled elbow to elbow to enjoy handcrafted Peruvian art, traditional music and dance, as well as freshly made food. Local businesses provided booths and food trucks.

Event organizer Suki Lagrito reflected on a year of cultural events. She said she believes the events have helped Global City Norwich reach its goal of revitalizing downtown with new business. She specifically mentioned the recently opened Cafe Otis and the S & A Market.

"I think there is a noticeable vibe and energy that was not here before," Lagrito said.






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