The ninth annual Salsa y Salsas festival drew more than 3,000 visitors to the Legislative Plaza between the Legislature and Nevada Capitol on Saturday.
Organizer Raquel Knecht, director of Nevada Hispanic Services, said the event is held as part of Hispanic Heritage Month as well as Mexican Independence.
It features a salsa making competition as well as a competition in salsa dancing.
Euclides Del Moral, representing the Mexican Consulate in Las Vegas, and Eduardo Wagner, director of the Northern Nevada Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the festival is an excellent chance to better educate non-Hispanic Americans with the Latino culture.
"The idea is for us to know each other a little more, to educate the American people as to who the Mexican people are," said Del Moral.
He added that Saturday was the 195th anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain.
Wagner said the festival "gives Americans a better understanding of their Mexican neighbors."
He said more than 25 percent of the Reno-Carson City area population is now Hispanic, the majority immigrants from Mexico, which includes more than 8,000 in Carson City and 66,000 in the Reno area.
As a result, Del Moral said, as those immigrants learn English, a growing number of Americans are learning Spanish.
"Eventually over the next decade, this country will become more a bilingual nation," he predicted.
Salsa y Salsas only drew four contestants in the salsa-making contest this year. Pilar Hilton of Carson City was named winner of the event.
But there were numerous other booths, including several offering authentic Mexican cuisine. Diners were entertained by a roving eight-piece Mariachi band as well as entertainers from the Ballet Folklorico International and San Francisco's Orquesta Boringuin salsa orchestra.
Music ranged from traditional and Mariachi music to Hispanic hip-hop.
-- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.