UniDiversity Festival 2021 Returns to Uptown Parks

UniDiversity Festival Sept 17

This month, one of Oxford and Miami’s most popular events will once again bring the community together in an evening of family fun, dance, food, and friendship, all in the open air. The annual Latin American and Caribbean UniDiversity Festival kicks off National Hispanic-Latino American Heritage Month, providing a portal for intercultural connections and civic engagement.

The last time the Festival was held uptown was 2019. Because of pandemic restrictions in 2020, the festival had to be canceled, although National Hispanic-Latino American Heritage Month was observed with virtual events and an art installation at MacMillan Hall. 

This year’s event promises a return to the exuberant feel of the past, but also a renewed sense of community. In fact, according to festival planning committee chair Jacqueline Rioja Velarde, no two Latin American and Caribbean UniDiversity Festivals are ever the same: participants always find different ways to enjoy the festivities every year.

“The UniDiversity Festival is a community celebration that blends the traditional and contemporary rhythms, cuisines, cultural values and practices into opportunities to create and re-create meaningful intercultural encounters,” she said. “It’s a treat to people’s senses, enjoying the taste of diverse cuisines and the magic beats of Latin music and dances, hands-on colorful arts and crafts, traditional games, and bright environments.”

Annual Latin American and Caribbean UniDiversity Festival

Friday, September 17, 2021


Oxford Uptown Parks
High St. & Main St., Oxford, OH 45056

Alternative location in case of severe weather: Hall Auditorium. Miami University requires face coverings indoors at all times, regardless of COVID vaccination status.

Festival Schedule and Additional Details

Amazon John and Silly Safaris are a family favorite

A booth staffed by the Oxford League of Women Voters encourages people to get out the vote

Professors Elena and Juan Carlos Albarrán enjoy a dance as children play on the lawn

Son del Caribe

Among the performers in this year’s festival is the Cincinnati-based Latin music ensemble Son del Caribe, widely acknowledged by both dancers and listeners as the top salsa band in Ohio. Led by the versatile trombonist Jaime Morales-Matos, associate professor of music at Miami, the band is known for their pan-Caribbean, pan-American sound that includes not only salsa but also such styles of Latin dance music as merengue, cumbia, son, bomba, plenas and bachata as well as newer musical hybrids like reggaeton.

This year Son del Caribe is also part of Miami's Performing Arts Series, a longtime festival sponsor. Series director Patti Liberatore said, "We love being a part of the UniDiversity Festival every year. We really value being able to help celebrate so many cultural traditions and community touchstones of food, music and art.”

Since its beginning in 2003, the festival has enjoyed a remarkable partnership between city and university. "UniDiversity Festival in one word is vibrant," said Kim Daggy, Executive Director of Enjoy Oxford. "Being in a college town brings an international scene and opportunities for the celebration of cultures—you can't help have your spirits lifted at the festival. Dance a little, try authentic cuisine, enjoy performances and experiences right in the Uptown area." Rioja Velarde noted that attendees have also demonstrated great interest in participating in a variety of civic engagement initiatives such voter registration, solidarity campaigns, and international peace day activities.

Much of the energy of the festival comes from Miami students like senior Speech Pathology major Marianna Gay. As the president of Miami’s Latinx student organization UNIDOS, as well as Sigma Lambda Gamma, Miami’s oldest multicultural sorority, she has been on the planning committee for the UniDiversity Festival for two years now. She finds it an enriching experience, both as a volunteer and attendee. “This festival is all about bringing different Hispanic Latino cultures together to the Oxford community,” she said. “Through the food, music, organizations, and activities at the festival, both Hispanic Latino and non-Hispanic Latino people can discover and enjoy Hispanic Latino culture, encouraging cultural exchange and interaction between both parties. Overall, the festival is such a great time and cultural experience; a must-see in Oxford!”

Rioja Velarde agrees. “Oxford Uptown Parks is transformed and becomes a space of unforgettable multicultural learning experiences for all. The diverse energy from partners, sponsors, volunteers, providers, community organizations— it's a livable testimony that “la unión hace la fuerza.

All are welcome to join this community celebration, part of the Hispanic Latino American Heritage Month.