Let’s Fiesta! Celebrate Cinco with a host of activities and events

By Taylor O’Connor

Margaritas, Chips and salsa, tacos, mariachi and fiestas are a few things to look forward to this Cinco de Mayo. The holiday celebrates Mexican culture, which is much more than excellent food and music.

The holiday celebrates the history of the country and its victory against France during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862, contradictory to most beliefs that it is Mexico’s Independence Day. Unfortunately, those beliefs are wrong since Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16.

Since then, the celebration has evolved into an event of pride in Mexican heritage and of celebration, especially in the United States. In Arizona, the influence of Mexican culture is vibrant and clear. People gather to celebrate the holiday in a variety of ways, here are some options for Tucson residents.

Dr. Gann’s Diet of Hope Cinco de Mayo run comes to get people active

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the 39th annual Dr. Gann’s Diet of Hope Cinco de Mayo 10K, 5K and FitKidz Mile. Runners and walkers can go the run’s scenic course in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains and go to a celebration afterward featuring the Cholla High School mariachi band.

The run begins at 6:30 a.m. with the 10K Walk, and shortly after at 6:35 begins the FitKidz Run. By 7 a.m., the 10K Run begins and then the 5K run or walk begins at 7:05. Registration is required and can be done online. Dogs are not permitted on the course.

Postrace festivities will begin at 8 a.m., including the sombrero kids race and the awards ceremony. Participants will receive a free T-shirt, get post-race breakfast burritos from El Saguarito Mexican Food and an Eegee’s slush.

A portion of the proceeds from the race will go to scholarships for Cholla High School Graduate Pursuing Higher Education; Cholla High School mariachi program, covering costs for foster kids to participate in sports, camps, music and art through La Frontera’s La Paloma Family Services; and SAR Children’s Fitness Fund.

The Agave Heritage Festival incorporates a family-oriented Cinco celebration

The Agave Heritage Festival is hosting events through May 5 to celebrate “cultural, commercial and culinary significance of the agave across borders.” The festival will host a free family-friendly Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and will include mariachi band performances, agave spirit tastings and artist displays. There will be a variety of food vendors, a local produce farmers market, and games and activities for kids.

The Agave Heritage Festival began in 2008 as Agave Fest, a Cinco de Mayo celebration focusing on tequila tastings and a tequila competition at Hotel Congress. As time went on, the festival grew and incorporated a higher variety of agave spirits and then incorporated food specials.

The agave plant is the festival’s focus because of its ties in the borderlands, specifically its role in the culture and history. Now it is a 10-day festival to celebrate the borderlands culture with seminars, trade shows and culinary events.

The Agave Heritage Festival celebrates Cinco de Mayo with its annual party

Spend the evening with The Agave Heritage Festival as it throws its annual Cinco party with Hotel Congress.

Festivities begin at 7 p.m. and the party carries through the night until 2 a.m. Monday, May 6. The night will have dancing, agave spirits including drink specials featuring Milagro and El Silencio, and live music from Santa Pachita.

Santa Pachita is a Tucson-based band who has been playing since 2012. The group has a variety of talented musicians each with different musical backgrounds resulting in the fusion of ska, cumbia and rumba-salsa. The congas, flute and trumpet add depth to the energetic music, perfect for the Cinco celebration.

Guests are encouraged to arrive early, and it is $5 per entry. The first 150 guests through the door can enjoy a Mezcal happy hour from 7 to 8 p.m.

What is now known as the Agave Heritage festival began as the Agave Fest in 2008 to celebrate the agave plant and its ties to borderland history. Specifically, the festival focused on spirits like tequila and held tequila tastings and a tequila competition at Hotel Congress. The festival later expanded to a higher variety of agave spirits and food specials.

All Things Mariachi

Join Ballet Folkloricó and Mariachi Arizona from the University of Arizona in celebration of Mexican history with a performance of the country’s traditional songs and dances.

The groups’ performances are 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, May 5, at The Gaslight Music Hall. Tickets are $25 with discounts for seniors, students and military.

Established in 1997, Tucson-based Ballet Folkloricó was created to celebrate Mexican culture and history through dance. The company has 150 members who tour all over the United States and Mexico and is recognized as one of the nation’s best folklorico companies.

Mariachi Arizona is one of the music programs in the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music. It is an ensemble group open to all students to play traditional Mexican songs as well as original pieces.

Whether it’s dipping chips into salsa, chowing on pork carnitas, sipping on a margarita or dancing to Mariachi music, remember it’s a celebration of Mexican history and culture. From parties to family-friendly events, there is going to be something for everyone to enjoy Cinco de Mayo.