HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s Hispanic population is the fastest growing people group in the islands.

Hispanics have a long history with the islands of Hawaii beginning with Spanish explorers in the 1500s through to our modern times.

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Hawaii can thank Mexican vaqueros for helping to establish Hawaii’s paniolo. The introduction of fruiting plants and garden curation were also brought by Hispanic settlers.

On Saturday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 15, the 31st Annual Hispanic Heritage Festival will be taking place in Ewa Beach.

For more information on what will be happening and the history of the festival here in Honolulu, KHON2.com was able to catch up with Nancy Ortiz, the Executive Director for the festival.

Ortiz was born and raised in Hawaii; she is a descendant of Puerto Rican workers who relocated to Hawaii in the early 1900s for the sugar plantations.

She became a community organizer due to her upbringing.

“During all my, my parents instilled in us that we do not forget our roots,” said Ortiz. “So, we did things as a normal families do, or rather normal Puerto Rican families. When I retired from a credit union here in the islands, I got very interested in my culture. And, so, I just started to do a lot of research on things related to my family’s history.”

She went on to explain further.

“I belonged to all of the different organizations that they had then,” added Ortiz. “I was the first woman president of an organization called the United Puerto Rican Association, which had about 600 members. And, I guess, I got educated there by a lot of the elders on more of our culture, our music, our dances, our foods, things of that sort.”

The Hispanic Heritage Festival begins at noon and goes through 7 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. You can find them at AMVEST West Oahu in Ewa Beach. You can click here for more information.

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If you get your tickets in advance of the weekend, then you can get a deal for $15 per ticket which will get you into the festival for both days. Otherwise, there’s a $10 entry fee.