Cinco de Mayo celebrations this weekend in Tarrant County

05/04/2014 12:00 AM

05/02/2014 11:24 PM

While the always popular Mayfest continues on the banks of the Trinity River in Fort Worth this weekend, Cinco de Mayo festivals offer other outdoor entertainment options.

And the weather should be perfect, with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s.

On Saturday in Arlington, the city is sponsoring its first Cinco de Mayo event, which will feature mariachi music and dancing. The free festival is planned as a way to give back to the Arlington community, said Michael Debrecht , rental and lake services manager for the city of Arlington.

“It’s another way to get residents of Arlington downtown, where they can celebrate a national event,” Debrecht said.

On Sunday in Fort Worth, the annual Downtown Fort Worth Cinco De Mayo Celebration will feature a who’s who of Tejano music. The goal is to turn Ninth Street in downtown Fort Worth into Calle Nueve — hoping to steal from Miami’s popular Calle Ocho festival.

“Everybody celebrates Cinco de Mayo,” said Tony Vasquez, who organized the celebration, explaining that the free event has been drawing people from different cultures since 1989.

The music attracts people of all ages, he said. Music legend Ram Herrera is among the scheduled headliners and is expected to bring big crowds, Vasquez said.

“Music is enjoyed by everyone,” Vasquez said. “Tejano music is like country western — Tex Mex style.”

For many Mexcian-Americans who live in the Southwest, Cinco de Mayo’s history serves as a reminder of how sometimes the underdog can triumph over a greater power.

“May 5 marks the Battle of Puebla,” said William Arce, assistant director for the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington. “The Battle of Puebla is more famous north of the Rio Grande than in Mexico.”

Arce said Cinco de Mayo is not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which dates to Sept. 16, 1810, and is “hugely celebrated.” On May 5, 1862, poorly equipped Mexican forces defeated French troops at the Battle of Puebla.

“It is basically a rag-tag militia out of Puebla defeats the French,” Arce said. “The little guy gets to beat the big guy.”

During the 1960s and 1970s, Cinco de Mayo became tied to the Chicano movement, Arce said. It marked the beginning of summer and was a time when farm workers and activists could gather to organize.

Since then, it has involved into an event that transcends cultures and language, Arce said.

“Cinco de Mayo has become margaritas, burritos and salsa dips,” Arce said.

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