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Fort Fall Fiesta welcomes Spanish-only speakers to community

Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 5:27 PM CDT
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FORT ATKINSON, Wis. (WMTV) - Every “welcome” came with a “bienvenidos” at the fourth annual Fort Fall Fiesta.

The Saturday event at Jones Park in Fort Atkinson was an effort to make the community feel more welcoming, particularly to Spanish-only speakers. Hosted by the group Unity Project, the fair had thirty vendors with family-friendly activities and resources on topics like vaccines and immigration.

According to the group’s founder Laura Alwin, every booth had a Spanish interpreter.

“It is certainly a big invite to the Hispanic community to join us because most of the events in Fort Atkinson, of course, are not bilingual. They’re in English, and so this is saying, ‘We want you to come out. We want you to come and be part of the community,’” she said.

Roughly ten percent of Fort Atkinson’s population is Hispanic, according to 2020 U.S. Census data. But community leaders say they believe up to 15 percent is a more accurate number, given undocumented people who may not complete government surveys.

Modesto Soto, pastor of a Hispanic congregation at First United Methodist Church, said some of his church members cannot speak English. “Sometimes I try to help people, families, like [an] interpreter, and help in stores, courthouse, even with the police department,” Soto said.

According to Alwin, the Unity Project aims to make the greater area around Fort Atkinson “equally welcoming to all community members, regardless of race, religion, sexual or gender orientation or ability level.”

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