FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) – After a year hiatus, Fort Benning held its annual International Festival also known as, “Bocadillos” on post on Sep. 23, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was not open to the public and only soldiers and their families could attend.

Colonel John Suggs, the Commandant of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, described the Tri-City area as a very diverse cultural make up. He also said the Latino community is very powerful.

“This is an an opportunity for all of our students who work at WHINSEC to show their pride in their nation, in their flags, their national foods and their national costumes at one time for the benefit of the whole community,” said Colonel Suggs.

He said his favorite part is watching the different countries perform and showcase their skills like dancing and singing. He said he hopes the festival will be able to welcome more people next year.

Adela Garcia-Duncan, the Director of Communications and Outreach at WHINSEC, said the festival is organized for about 20 weeks prior to the day and the community looks forward to the event every year.

“I love their food, I can’t ever choose. Everybody will always ask me which one is my favorite, I do not have a favorite, it’s all delicious. Also the love, cause they made the food with love and that’s the Latino culture so it’s expressed tonight,” said Garcia-Duncan.

The International Festival is planned by a different director from WHINSEC every year. Each booth is represented with people from that country who are either instructors or students from the school.

Yira Martinez, the wife of an Army staff member of the Dominican Republic, said she and her husband arrived at Fort Benning three months ago. He is taking the Command and General Staff Officer course before returning back to the Dominican Republic.

“Being happy and being able to give off good energy to anyone that comes to our booth and we can show them how beautiful our country is,” said Martinez in Spanish.

She said her favorite part of the event was being able to share Dominican gastronomy and culture with all visitors.