It’s called La Quinceañara. Literally, it’s the 15th birthday. But that doesn’t quite capture the importance of the event to a Hispanic girl. It’s accompanied by a party. Some have likened it to a Sweet 16 party or a coming out party. But that doesn’t quite do it justice either.

“They can be major, major events. Some have 1,200 people or more attending them,” said Rick Tanner, executive director of the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center.

Tanner says the trade center typically holds two or three Quinceañaras a month.

According to data provided by the trade center, private functions geared to Hispanics, including Quinceañaras and weddings, brought in approximately $32,393 in revenue in 2005. That’s a small amount of the almost $750,000 in total revenue the trade center brought in, but it’s almost triple the revenue from private functions for non-Hispanic customers.

And it underscores just how actively the trade center is pursuing Dalton’s growing Hispanic market.

Tanner says, for instance, that the trade center’s food service department brings in a Hispanic consultant to help prepare meals for parties and weddings, which can also be quite large.

The trade center now holds Hispanic dances on a monthly basis. Tanner says those shows, brought in by independent promoters, never fail to pack the trade center arena.

And he says the trade center’s recent move into indoor soccer will also help tap into the Hispanic market, not just in Dalton but across the Northwest Georgia and east Tennessee areas.

Trade center officials are also talking about bringing in Mexican rodeos and Hispanic car shows.

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