East Los Angeles bustled with vibrant energy last Saturday as the annual El Gran Festival of East L.A. took center stage at the East LA Civic Center, hosted by Eastmont Community Center. This free, family-friendly event served as a love letter to the East LA community, showcasing its local talent, entrepreneurial spirit, and rich cultural tapestry.

This year, Eastmont Community Center enlisted over 60 vendors to participate in the festival, transforming the event space into a marketplace brimming with unique finds. Attendees browsed handcrafted jewelry, fresh produce, artisanal foods, and local art, discovering hidden gems and supporting the neighborhood’s small businesses.

Over ten food trucks and booths dished up an enticing array of culinary delights. From sizzling tacos to plant-based foods, and fluffy pupusas, the festival offered a delicious journey through the diverse flavors of East LA.

The heart of Eastmont Community Center’s festival throbbed with live music and energetic performances from local musicians as they took the stage, filling the air with a mix of traditional melodies and contemporary beats. Subsuelo, a global bass crew from Los Angeles, and Doris Montenegro y Su Sonora Explosiva headlined the event. The infectious energy of the music had toes tapping and smiles widening, fostering a sense of community and shared joy.

This year, Eastmont Community Center’s festival sponsors, partners, and collaborators included First 5 LA, New Economics for Women, Los Angeles County Development Authority; In the Making, El Sereno Night Market, 323 Flea Market, East Los Angeles Library; East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), Cal State LA’s LEEAF Accelerator, Los Angeles Small Business Development Center (LA SBDC); Brillantes Emprendedoras Latinas de Los Angeles (BELLA), LA County Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Brand LA, Inclusive Action for the City; Fideicomiso Comunitario Tierra Libre, Community Power Collective, Altamed and the Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis. The festival also enrolled volunteers from all corners of Los Angeles County, making the experience a collaborative effort to support East LA.

Eastmont Community Center’s Executive Director, Isaias Hernandez, remarked, This event is not just a celebration of business innovation, but a testament to the resilience and creativity of our local community.

The nonprofit organization recently announced its selection as a 2024 California Nonprofit of the Year by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, District 52. In a letter to Eastmont Community Center’s leadership and staff, Congressman Jimmy Gomez congratulated the Center’s efforts. “Eastmont Community Center has been a steadfast advocate for the accessibility of support and resources for the residents of East Los Angeles.”

Beyond the festive atmosphere, El Gran Festival served a deeper purpose. A dedicated area in the East LA Civic Center’s library offered valuable resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. Attendees gleaned insights on business development and explored various support programs, empowering them to chase their dreams and contribute to the economic vitality of East LA.

El Gran Festival wasn’t just about commerce and entertainment; it was about celebrating the heart and soul of East LA. Children played with glee, families reconnected, and neighbors shared stories under the warm California sun. The event served as a powerful reminder of the strength, resilience, and cultural richness that defines this vibrant East Los Angeles community.