DOBSON — On a hot Saturday afternoon in Dobson, heading south of the border seemed to be a fitting thing to do.
A visitor to the center of town could cover his eyes — blocking out the familiar old courthouse nearby — and easily imagine he was in the middle of a Mexican village instead.
The first indicator was the amplified voice of a man speaking in Spanish from the stage of Dobson Square Park, who turned out to be the leader of the band Mariachi Grullense De Charlotte introducing its members. They subsequently launched into the song “La Bamba,” again in Spanish, but easily recognizable.
Nearby was an array of food vendors advertising such authentic fare as pollo (chicken), chorizo (Mexican sausage), cabeza (beef head) and tripa (beef intestine), along with more-recognizable burritos, quesadilla and other items.
In addition to the mariachi band, dancers with a Latino flair were part of the entertainment offerings.
And then there were the people attending the annual Dobson Latin Festival, first launched in 2015, who showcased the area’s ethnic diversity.
“It’s pretty fun — families happy,” Angel Osorno, 11, of Mount Airy, said while standing in line at the Ice Shack.
Angel’s dad, Gonzalo, said he appreciated the opportunity for people in the area to assemble and enjoy good food and music.
“Everything” was his reply to a question regarding his favorite part of the event, which also featured an array of inflatable game and play stations on the park grounds accessible with unlimited armbands sold by town government representatives.
Laura Neely, newly installed town manager of Dobson, said the festival is multi-faceted.
“It just kind of exemplifies the Latino culture,” Neely said of the event launched three years ago by the municipal government with sponsorship help from Wayne Farms, a Dobson poultry company that employs many people in the target population.
But the town manager was quick to point out that the Latin Festival is really geared toward everyone, which was evident with the mix of people present who seemed to enjoy the chance to savor different kinds of food and music.
“It helps people get out in the community and gives them something to do while experiencing the Latin culture,” Neely said. “The food is always good — we try to sample that.”
Town Finance Officer Marlene Lopez agreed that the festival is not just a way to get one group of people together, “but everybody else to get a glimpse of our culture.” She said it allows everyone in the Dobson community and beyond to blend.
“I think that’s the word — community,” Branch Librarian Cindy Brannock of the Dobson Community Library said of the festival from another spot on the grounds where she was signing up people for library cards.
“It helps strengthen our community and the diversity of it,” Brannock said of the event.
“I love it,” the librarian added.
The crowds Saturday were noticeably down from previous years, which organizers explained was due to Wayne Farms employees unexpectedly being assigned to work that day because Hurricane Florence earlier disrupted the plant’s production schedule.
But more people were expected to trickle in to Dobson Square Park as the event progressed toward its scheduled 8 p.m. end time.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.