DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Friday is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. It is a time to recognize the contributions of Americans with Hispanic and Latin roots, while also celebrating their cultures.

The city of Dayton is going big with the free Hispanic Heritage Festival, which is set to kick off Saturday. While the festival will be kicking off Saturday at 11 a.m., the parade will be be starting an hour afterwards at noon.

Attendees will have the chance to view traditional garments and dances that represent different Latin American countries. People will be able to learn how to make empanadas, a staple Latin dish. Eventgoers can taste the different ways they are made in both a cooking demonstration at the culture booth.  

For the very first time, there will be a new featured exhibit showcasing 61 individuals of Hispanic heritage. All individuals in the exhibit received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration in the U.S. Armed Forces.  

The president of PACO, the Puerto Rican, American and Caribbean Organization, says through the festival and a partnership with the Dayton Foundation, they are able to use the event’s proceeds to support local scholarships. The festival helps provide 10,000 worth of scholarships for college students across the Miami Valley.

This year they were able to do something they’ve never done before. 

“Each year, we’ve been proud to be able to increase the scholarships.” said Karla Knox, president of PACO. “So we were giving five scholarships and this year we were able to double that, an increase to ten. So we’re hoping we have a really successful festival tomorrow so that we can increase that for next year as well.”

The festival will run all day Saturday until 11 p.m.