ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The city of Rochester is celebrating the 52nd annual Puerto Rican Festival this year after a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everybody seems to be happy for its return, especially local empanada restaurant owner Luis Carrasquillo.
“I’m part of Rochester and not only am I part of Rochester, it’s part of my culture and I’m one of the business owners in the community,” said Carrasquillo, owner of Munchies Roc City Empanadas. “I’ve fought hard to be in this position to be able to serve our community… and everybody the whole Rochester community can come out here and enjoy us.
Munchies Roc City Empanadas have been participating in the festival for several years because it allows Carrasquillo to connect with his community the best way he knows how -- empanadas.
“For many, many years this event has served as a family reunion,” said Orlando Ortiz, president of the Puerto Rican Festival. “This year has a different meaning for that because we’re seeing people who haven’t seen each other in two years. So it’s great to be able to have an event like this to kind of bridge those gaps and not lose sight of those relationships that we once had.”
The Puerto Rican Festival is a way for all community members to enjoy Puerto Rican culture and gain a better insight into the roots it has in Rochester.
“And then for the children,” Ortiz said. “The children that are being raised here are not necessarily immersed in their Puerto Rican culture in Puerto Rico, it’s good to be able to expose them to a little piece of what Puerto Rican culture is about.”
And the festival continues to be a big hit for the city of Rochester, attracting individuals to celebrate the Puerto Rican heritage through food, music and community no matter their heritage.
“Everybody loves Spanish food,” Carrasquillo said. “They live to come eat the empanadas. They love the bacalito. They love the culture. They love the music and Rochester needs this, this is what we are.”