Despite cloudy skies and light rain, a large crowd gathered on the lawn of the Sherman Municipal Building Saturday afternoon for the 21st annual Hispanic Heritage Festival, which was organized by the Hispanic Heritage Council of Texoma.

HHCT President Diana Salas was brimming with excitement at the response the festival received.

“Every year it gets bigger, we’re touching more cultures, more diversity in our community, that’s a huge deal,” Salas said. “I can tell the rain is not stopping anyone. I don’t think the rain is going to stop us at all.”

Live entertainment, food, games for children and a small car show were some of the activities awaiting anyone who attended the festival.

“We are celebrating the Hispanic Festival in our beautiful city of Sherman,” HHCT member Melida Ailshire said.

Ailshire was very pleased with the size of the crowd and mingled throughout the afternoon thanking people for coming out.

“We love celebrating our culture right here while making sure that everybody is invited to come see, hear and taste the best of our Hispanic culture,” Ailshire said. “Even with a little bit of rain, we are excited to come out today. We’re so proud and honored to be a part of our community, Sherman is growing a lot. It’s wonderful seeing all the people coming out here.”

Salas explained the independence of Mexico and Central American countries are at the heart of the festival. She said her favorite part of the event is setting it up. Salas said the event has grown each year with several new vendors joining this year.

Grayson County Justice of the Peace Rita G. Noel, for Precinct 4, is a huge fan of the festival and was the first Hispanic woman elected to public office in Grayson County.

“It’s part of my culture,” Noel said of attending the festival. “I love listening to the music, watching the people. It’s really neat for all of us to be here and watch this. For everyone to come out, even with it raining and people are coming, we have to support the Hispanic council and be here for them, rain or shine.”

HHCT Vice President Henry Marroquin, who has been with the organization for 18 years, said, for him, the festival was all about the music and the fun.

“When there is a mariachi involved, and you have dancers in general, they (people) will come,” Marroquin said. “We’re a very festive people.”

Orsi Quintanilla, who is of El Salvadorian heritage, said he went to the event, mostly, for the good food.

“I been coming every year, it’s pretty much the Independence Day for Mexico and all the Central American countries,” Quintanilla said. “We come to enjoy the people and get good food, listen to the music. The best food is Salvadorian food. We don’t do spicy not like Mexico does. A lot of people like to hear the mariachis when they come, me I like the food.”

Sherman Mayor David Plyler gave a speech thanking everyone for coming out and talking about how important it was to celebrate Hispanic culture. He was followed by Sherman Police Chief Zachary Flores, who said as a proud member of the Hispanic community it is important for his department to be friendly to all people.

The festival went into the early evening, when a live concert took over the grounds.