El Centro will host a Cinco de Mayo Festival May 5 and 6 in Old Town Square.
Cinco de Mayo represents the Mexican victory against French troops in 1862 in the Battle of Puebla. The festival will present the staples of Mexican culture. There will be both Tejano and mariachi bands, a new pico de gallo-making celebration, salsa dancing, tortilla making and a low rider showcase.
There will also be local vendors selling their own food and clothes. Traditionally, the City of Fort Collins and CSU have hosted two separate Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Ortiz said that by collaborating, there is a lot to gain.
“Since our offices are collaborating, it’s going to be a lot more CSU students attending,” said Brandy Ortiz, the program coordinator at El Centro. “There’s a lot of community members with their children running around, but there is very rarely CSU students there.”
The festival also serves as an opportunity for representation and mentorship through celebration.
“I think the students being there to expose children in the community to college and seeing people who look like them is huge,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz said the festival will celebrate Mexican pride.
“There’s not many days that the whole United States has an opportunity to celebrate Mexican culture and Mexican American individuals, especially with the climate today, there’s a lot of sense of not being prideful in your culture, how you look and speaking Spanish,” Ortiz said. “We have a lot of Freshman students coming in here trying to disown a lot of their identities so they can be successful in school, so having them get back with their true identity (is important).”
This also shows non-Mexican Fort Collins residents that there is a strong Mexican community and they are doing a lot for this area.
Local businesses have shown support for the festival by donating supplies. Ortiz said 15 pounds of tomatoes were donated for the pico de gallo-making activity.
“A lot of people in the community that work at these local businesses are really invested in exposing our culture,” Ortiz said.
Lindsay Gomez, El Centro front desk employee, said the festival is a time for Hispanic students to celebrate their roots.
“It’s a welcoming experience not just for the people in the community but for people who came to CSU and lost that piece of community when they came to Fort Collins or they weren’t sure where to find it,” Gomez said.
The festival will take place in Old Town Square on May 5 from 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. and May 6 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maddierwright.