Meet Héctor Ivan Rodriguez Agenjo, Founder of
THE FESTIVAL PUERTORRIQUEÑO Y CULTURAL
By Mercedes Fonseca
Growing up en la isla del encanto, Héctor Ivan Rodriguez had a calling. His path began with obtaining a degree in education, and following in the footsteps of his grandmother, who was his inspiration and also a teacher. Having been instilled a strong faith-based foundation, he became a Choir instructor at his local church to then become the Senior Pastor. Hector meets and falls in love with Sonia Capeles. Their relationship began with a friendship that in turn evolved into a marriage that has grown in strength over 40 years ago. Between both Héctor and Sonia, there are 4 children and 5 grandchildren.
Like many families, their vacations included traveling to Central Florida and visiting the theme parks. In 2008, Hector had the opportunity to relocate with his family and Sanford, FL was soon home. He begins chatting with his son on Facebook and they begin with a jeep club. Hector then starts to search with the words, “Puertorriqueños en la Florida.” Much to his surprise, those terms were nonexistent at the time. He quickly creates a group page and Puertorriqueños viviendo en la Florida is born. He begins posting news happening on the island, as well as comments and personal happenings.
The Facebook group page quickly connected with many fellow Puertorriqueños and Latinos alike. The growth was quicker than he ever could have imagined and grew well over 800 members in the first month. He began his activities in a parking lot that was attended by several hundred people. It was so well received that Hector was approached by a community member that suggested he take it to the next level.
Fast forward to 2016. Despite his challenges, Héctor says he met an “angel,” by the name Sonia Fonseca. She welcomed him with open arms and assisted him in his first ever festival, held at Fort Mellon Park. The first event attracted well over 3,000 people. Hector’s dedication and hard work earned him the respect of many governmental representatives.
This husband, father and grandfather has earned numerous awards both locally and nationally for his development of this spectacular cultural experience. His desire to unite fellow Puertorriqueños from across the region is alive and well and “here to stay,” says Héctor. To date, Facebook has numerous group pages beginning with “Puertorriqueños Viviendo en,” a true homage to Héctor’s intent which was to serve as a bridge amongst all Puertorriqueños. Héctor has served as the nonprofit’s CEO, for over 15 years. A legacy he hopes that will continue to be handed down from generation to generation.
Puertorriqueños Viviendo En Florida presented the annual event “The Festival Puertorriqueño y Cultural” and this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary at Fort Mellon Park in Sanford, Florida on August 28, 2021. Wepa!