Green in the midst of a flurry of color, dancers from the Ballet Folklorico move through the streets of Milton-Freewater during a parade in the city. The Cinco de Mayo celebration will be Saturday and Sunday on North Main Street.
If you go
Cinco de Mayo Community United and Vendor Fair
Saturday: 10-8 p.m.
Loteria (Mexican Bingo), 2-6 p.m.
Hot chile eating contest, 3 p.m.
The Bank & Grill Catering Company dinner and live performance by Eddie Manzaneres and the Cafe Blanco, 6-9 p.m., Cost $25.
To-be-scheduled or all-day events: live bands, including Los Pirato and Arranque Michoacano; dancing, beer garden, raffle prizes, face painting.
Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
Crafts and food vendors
MILTON-FREEWATER — After a two-year hiatus, Cinco de Mayo will return to Milton-Freewater this weekend — this time as a street fair.
“One of our big goals is to kind of unite our community,” Downtown Alliance program director Alina Launchbaugh said, adding that the Cinco de Mayo celebration will replace the summer street fair that normally happens in June.
“Normally each summer there is the street fair so we are trying out this year to combine the street fair and Cinco de Mayo, and then taking the October Fest to a new level,” she added.
What that means is that Mexican and German cultures will both be celebrated, one in the spring and the other in the fall, with the closing of North Main Street between Fifth and Sixth streets.
The size of the community’s Cinco de Mayo celebration has varied over the years, ranging from a soccer match to a community parade, but the last two years saw few festivities for lack of volunteers.
“We have tried. Even in the years that we didn’t have it, they tried to do something, get a soccer game going or something that coordinates with the Mexican population because that is a large portion of the population,” Jeri Honn of Three Divas Beads said.
The festivities will take over Main Street for two days, with live music and performances throughout Saturday from 10-8 p.m., as well as a number of arts, crafts and food vendors.
On Sunday, the vendors and food will be back for a more scaled down celebration from noon-5 p.m.
¿Que es Cinco De mayo?
Cinco de Mayo is not a nationally mandated holiday in Mexico like Mexico’s national Independence Day on Sept. 16.
Nevertheless, communities there celebrate May 5 in varying degrees, much the same as Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the United States.
According to the cultural education organization “Ciudades Virtuales Latinas,” the history of Cinco de Mayogoes back to July 17, 1861, when the Congress of Mexico declared it would not make payments on its foreign debt for two years.
The move resulted in an alliance of three creditor countries who resolved to invade Mexico: Spain invaded in December that year, followed in January 1862 by England and France.
The alliance was short lived, as Spain and England withdrew forces in April 1862, after negotiating with Mexico.
France, then ruled by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, also called Napoleon III, continued its invasion aiming to establish a monarchy that would eventually be led by Maximiliano de Habsburgo.
What ensued was a five-year war for independence from France until 1867. Early on in that war, on May 5, 1862, the battle for Puebla, Mexico, was won by a much smaller and poorly-equipped Mexican army.
It was said to be the first time an inferior force had ever defeated the imperial troops of Bonaparte and the victory spurred the Mexican army in its fight against Maximiliano. The victory is greatly celebrated every May 5 in Puebla.