Flea market’s Hispanic Heritage Day brings diversity to Macon

mstucka@macon.comSeptember 29, 2013 

As children in brightly colored costumes twirled and danced, hundreds of people stopped to hear “Hispanic Heritage Day” music Sunday at Smiley’s Flea Market that sometimes defied easy definition.

“There’s different music from Panama, Colombia, and Veracruz, Mexico,” said Carlos Sanchez, 38, of Macon. The 17-year resident of Middle Georgia, who originally came from Puebla, Mexico, said all the music was good stuff that his wife, son and nephew also enjoyed.

Not far away, Lole Martinez was dressed to the nines to perform with Madison-based Extranjeros de la Sierra.

“I think it’s pretty good, pretty different,” said Martinez. “A lot of people in this country we love don’t have experience with our town.”

Asked if he’d heard before the music of Panama, he responded, “Everything is good, man.”

Hispanic Heritage Day -- more formally known as the Gran Celebración de la Hispanidad -- is an annual event at Smiley’s flea market.

Macon attorney Jennifer Moore, a native of Warner Robins, was enjoying the music and people.

“I think I’ve seen someone from everywhere,” she said. “I’ve seen all social classes out here. ... I just wish more people from Middle Georgia came to check it all out.”

She was offering information on legal issues involving immigration. She describes many of her clients as undocumented, but says they also often defy stereotypes. Last week, she discovered one new client had been deported twice -- but was actually a U.S. citizen because of a parent. Other clients don’t know their rights and sign away their liberties. Others paid lots of money to notaries working as attorneys who mislead them about their legal options.

And not all are even Hispanic, and some who are don’t speak any Spanish. She works with some Guatemalan immigrants that speak a Mayan dialect, as well as speakers of Gujarati from India, the Urdu language from around Pakistan, and Russian.

Some of the people who stopped by her table were interested in legal help. Others came for the bowls of candy she’d set out.

Not far away, art dealer Dora Martinez cheered when a man asked for natives of Mexico who were listening to the music.

“I like the salsa,” she told a reporter.

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