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Food, music highlights as residents celebrate 6th annual Meriden Green Latino Expo 

MERIDEN — Bachata, reggaeton and salsa music boomed throughout the Meriden Green on Sunday celebrating the sixth annual Meriden Green Latino Expo with traditional food and music.

Eight years ago, while the Meriden Green was being built, organizer Pedro Valentín had a vision for the event.

“I wanted to have an event where all Latinos would be represented,” he said. “We have Puerto Rican festivals and Dominican festivals, but other people may feel left out.”

The Latino Expo started in 2018 and has since been a day for locals to try a variety of Latino cuisines, listen and watch live performances, and learn about different resources in the community.

Plenty of Latino flavors

The Old San Juan Restaurant food truck offered items from both their tent and food truck. People lined up to buy piña coladas, empanadas filled with either chicken, pizza, or carne, their combos of rice with either grilled chicken or fried pork, and chicken or pork pinchos. 

The entire family of owners Angel and Isabel Ortiz were helping out at the event, serving food to customers. 

Paradise Frappe, which opened in May in Meriden, offered three different flavors of frappes. While their Oreo and Nutella frappe was popular, nothing compared to their piña coladas, which had the option of being sold in a big pineapple. 

Lillian Matias, Paradise owner, said that this was her first ever-community event. 

“It’s going great,” she said. “This is our first time being out in the community, but it’s nice to get to know everything and share my business.”

Joanna Cruz, of Middletown, ordered a piña colada, which reminded her of Puerto Rico. 

“This is amazing,” she said. “Having events like this that represent and get us out in the community is great. There should be more.”

The Peruvian restaurant Rinconcito Peruano offered a variety of Peruvian dishes to people. Customers had options of chaufa, causa, salchipapa, arroz con mariscos and chicharron de pollo. For dessert, the business offered alfajores and leche asada. 

“We have never gone out to an event like this,” Joseph Torres, co-owner, said. 

A variety of performances

Throughout the Latino Expo, Valentin’s son, DJ Valentin, was at the event playing some of the greatest Latino hits. 

Students from Valentin Karate did a demonstration for attendees. One by one, students did karate forms accompanied by Master Jairo Velasquez. Afterward, they broke boards for the crowd. 

“We do demonstrations at different events to show people what we’re about,” owner Efrain Valentin said. 

Ten-year-old Steven Ramos, known as Steven R., performed three songs for the crowd. Ramos got into music through his mother Kirliana Ramos, who also performed at the Latino Expo. 

Later on, Pedro Valentín, known as El Coqui Salsero, performed his original music alongside Luis Morales. He also performed with his brother Aníbal Valentín. The two are known as Hermanos Valentín and have been playing music together since the 1980s. 

New activities

Each year, Pedro Valentín incorporates new activities. This year, children were able to enjoy the bouncy houses that were placed on the grass. Next year, Valentín plans to have carnival rides. 

“I want people to be excited for this event,” Valentín said. “I want them to look forward to it every year.”

“I’m very happy with how everything turned out,” he added.



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