RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A group of local Latin real estate agents kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month Thursday with a celebration of culture and unity in downtown Richmond.

Two of the organizers, Panamanian-born Jo Ann Breaux and Bolivian-born Daniela Queen, said they wanted to bring people together through food, music and dancing.

“It’s important that we celebrate these types of events here in Richmond, especially because the Latin American community makes up almost 10% of the population here,” Breaux told 8News. “We have many thriving businesses that have Latin business owners.”

Breuax and Queen both work in realty, and wanted Spanish speakers in and around Richmond to feel confident that they have support to purchase a home and have a space of their own.

“You’re not alone,” Queen said. “You can do all these things. You contribute to this amazing country, so you have the possibilities to also achieve something bigger.”

Thursday evening’s event featured prizes from local vendors, dancing from the Salsa Guy, and Venezuelan food by Patry’s Flavors.

“It’s not just a Latino event. This is to incorporate all the culture here in Richmond and to showcase things about our countries that other people might not know,” Breaux said. “It’s really great to kind of bring everybody together to learn and to talk about how to make our community thrive more with the diversity that we have here in Richmond.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, coinciding with Independence Day celebrations in several Latin American countries across the globe. It is meant to recognize the contributions and influences of Latin history, culture and achievements. It was first celebrated in the U.S. in 1968 as a single week, but was extended to a month 20 years later.

A list of other Hispanic Heritage Month events happening locally can be found here.