jViva Cinco de Mayo! | VailDaily.com

jViva Cinco de Mayo!

Wren Wertin
Daily file photoEdwards is holding Cinco de Mayo festivities all day Saturday at the Edwards Plaza.

Cinco de Mayo kicks off in Edwards tomorrow, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Mexican Independence Day is actually Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican peasant soldiers’ defeat of the French army on May 5, 1862 – a battle that had implications for the United States. If the Mexicans had not so efficiently routed the French army, those soldiers would have continued up to lend their weight to the Civil War, fighting for the South.

“They began celebrating it in the U.S. to woo the new Mexican citizens,” said Susan Marquez, owner of Fiesta’s! Cafe and Cantina.

Marquez is on the organizing committee for the Edwards’ Cinco de Mayo festival, “Celebrating Diversity, Working Toward Unity in Eagle County.”

Five years ago, she was asked by the Edwards Business Association to help organize an Easter Egg Hunt. She arrived with a vision of Cinco de Mayo instead, and by the end of the meeting they had decided to go ahead with it.

“We’ve had Fiesta’s! for 13 years,” she said. “Being down in Edwards, I longed to have a celebration, to bring the party outside.”

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Five years later, it has grown considerably. Commanding three different locations, it’s turned into an all-day affair for families, including Mariachi America de Jesus Diaz, St. Claire’s Folklorico dancers, pony rides on the river path, face painting, a chili cook-off and more.

“This is going to be the best Cinco so far,” said Marquez. “So many different people are involved. What’s so neat is seeing more and more people every year.”

Edwards Plaza

The Edwards Plaza will once again host the chili cook-off, where both amateur and professional cooks can enter their chili. Attendees will be able to sample the goods along with the official judges, until they run out.

Fiesta’s! will host a tortilla-rolling demonstration, as well as the pinata-breaking every hour on the half hour.

A silent auction will be ongoing throughout the day, and all proceeds will be split between Meet the Wilderness and the Youth Foundation. Donated items include rounds of golf, dinners, books and more. Meet the Wilderness is a non-profit organization that helps local youth increase their self confidence and learn how to work as a team. The Youth Foundation has several programs, including the Bike Drive (bike collection for needy kids) and Network Neighborhood (free computer service at specified times for the public).

Food and vendor booths, face painting and children’s arts and crafts are also on the agenda. Folkloric dancers and wandering mariachis will be floating from location to location.

Riverwalk Main Street

In addition to face painting and more children’s arts and crafts, Riverwalk will host sidewalk sales, food and vendor booths.

Because Cinco de Mayo is an event for the community, many of the organizations concerned with public safety will be on hand. A Flight for Life helicopter will swoop down on the festivities, landing on the corner of Highway 6 and Edwards Village Boulevard for everyone to have a look-see.

“We’re going to have an ambulance at one of the sites, and we have some schwag to give away,” said Fred Morrison, operations manager of Eagle County Ambulance District.

Safety personnel will be on hand to evaluate car seats. After undergoing an intensive four-day course, they’ll make appraisals based on the car seat’s age, positioning and more. For owners of unsafe car seats, new ones will be available at the Vail Valley Medical Center’s (VVMC) cost.

“We’ll also have a helmet fitting and helmet giveaways to kids, and we’re going to give a way gun locks,” said Ann Wardrop of VVMC. “A police officer will be available to show how to use them. And Vail Fire Department will give away smoke detectors with batteries, and show how to use them. Then there’s some fun things, like a radar gun to see how fast a kid can throw a ball.”

Entertainment Tent

The Entertainment Tent will be right in front of Zino’s Ristorante. New this year is Conjunto Colores, an 11-piece salsa band. They’ll be adding a bit of musical flavor to the proceedings. Grupo Adventura, made up of local musicians, will also be performing, as well as Mariachi America de Jesus Diaz.

The Eagle Valley Children’s Chorale will sing the American Anthem, and the Edward Elementary Schoolkids will sing the Himno Nacional de Mexico. Other speakers will include Fred Fleming of the Denver Broncos and Sara Fisher, the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder. Emcee Richard Carnes will keep the afternoon moving.

Four awards will be given to individuals and organizations that help promote diversity in the Eagle Valley. Habitat for Humanity will be recognized for its work within economic diversity; The Literacy Project for educational diversity; La Mesa for social diversity; Miguel Blanco of Radio El Piolin for cultural diversity.

Mexican Culture

The organizers of Cinco de Mayo are striving to highlight the artistic contributions of the Mexican culture. The traditional dancers and mariachis illustrate the point.

Marquez grew up in Denver, and though her grandparents spoke Spanish, she and her sisters weren’t taught. For her, celebrating Cinco is a way to revisit her lost culture and to bring it to others.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated tomorrow in Edwards from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.

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