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Fiesta time: Mexican Heritage Society hosts 51st fiesta on Saturday

For the Mexican people, a fiesta is more than just a party. It’s a celebration of history, triumph and culture. Saturday, the Mexican Heritage Society celebrates 51 years of commemorating Mexico’s independence from Spain with all of Southeast Texas during their annual fiesta.

The Mexican Heritage Fiesta will be held from 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday in the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center. Tickets are $5 for ages 11-17 and seniors, $10 for adults and free for children 10 and younger.

The event includes the return of the popular pageantry show, performances by the Folkloric Dancers, business and food vendors, costume contests, music and more. Zulema Escobedo, President of the Mexican Heritage Society, said this year’s fiesta is going to be bigger than ever.

“We have close to 50 contestants that are going to be participating in this year’s fiesta pageantry, which is a great number larger from our previous years,” Escobedo said. “We have anywhere from newborn babies all the way to 21 year olds. Same thing with our vendors, we are booked for every vendor.”

The Mexican Heritage Fiesta will feature performances by Folkloric Dancers. Dana Esqueda Wiltz is seen practicing last year with other past folkloric dancers for the 50th annual Mexican Heritage Fiesta at a Groves coffee shop. The 51st annual Fiesta is scheduled for Saturday. (The News file photo)

The 20 plus vendors include local businesses from law firms to dentist offices with non-profit companies located outside the center. Hobby tables will be set up and eight food vendors are set to attend. Lifeshare will also be present for blood donations.

The fiesta celebration kicks off at 10 a.m. with a welcome by Port Arthur Mayor Thurman “Bill” Bartie and a presentation of colors. Various festivities and performances will take place throughout the day.

Folkloric Dancers will perform an Aztec dance at 10 a.m. and an Oaxaca dance at noon with a full showcase at 2:45 p.m.

“We have the folkloric dancers who work very hard,” Escobedo said. “They start registering in May and all summer they practice their dances.”

Tiny, Petite, Little and Young pageant will be at 12:30 p.m. with the Junior and Miss pageant at 4 p.m.

“In our pageant, every single queen has a different dress in each category so you’ll see just about every country in Mexico,” Escobedo said. “So it’s very similar to what you would see in Mexico if you went to a festival there.”

Co-pageant director Flisha Ramirez said the pageant is more than just beauty, it represents the country and their king and queens are held to high standards after crowning.

“I am excited about the pageant,” she said. “These costumes come from every state and we want them to see what it means to us and share it with our community. I can’t wait to see their personalities on stage and see who the royal court is going to be for the year.”

Each queen, upon crowning has to complete at least two community service events a month throughout Southeast Texas,

“We’re always out and about willing to help,” Ramirez said. “We want the community to know we are there for them and they are here for us.”

For Escobedo, she said the pageant is where she saw the importance of holding an event like the fiesta after her daughter, Mindy Escobedo, won Junior Miss in 2017.

“When you run for something you actually have to study your state and answer why you decided to choose that state,” she said. “Even though I was born (in Texas), my mom’s side is from Monterrey, Mexico, and I would visit every summer — and yet, I didn’t really know Mexico.

“I knew the everyday culture, but when my daughter won we had to go through events throughout the year. That’s when I realized this is why these events that not only the Mexican Society holds, but other societies hold about their culture, are so important to be involved in.”

A promenade of all crowned kings and queens will start at 6:30 p.m. followed with a musical performance by “Reyes Locos and San Marcos” at 7 p.m.

Escobedo said she wants to encourage everyone to come out to the fiesta and experience authentic Mexican culture.

“Our society is about our roots and that’s what I think makes it so beautiful,” she said. “You get to learn the culture of other people. That’s what the point of this event is and why we want the whole community to come.

“Even though it is a Mexican Heritage Society event that is just for us to bring our culture. We don’t want to just have the Mexican Society community there. We want everyone to come because we want everyone to understand what Mexico is about — It’s for everybody.”

For more information, visit their Facebook page at Mexican Heritage Society of Port Arthur Texas.