Community Mexican Fiesta returns for 95th year

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Anna Lozano, right, and other dancers with the local folkloric group Sol de Mexico perform a traditional Mexican dance in Stevens Park during the 2019 Garden City Community Mexican Fiesta. This year's celebration will have events on Friday and Saturday.

The Garden City Community Mexican Fiesta returns for its 95th year.

The annual downtown Fiesta celebration was not held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The only event held was the Fiesta queen pageant. 

Angelica Castillo Chappel, president of the Fiesta Committee, said the Fiesta began in 1926 as a small parade on Seventh Street with the families living in Garden City from Mexico who were working with the sugar beet factory and railroad celebrating Mexico's independence from Spanish rule.

Nowadays, the mission of the Fiesta has slightly changed, Castillo Chappel said. While still celebrating Mexico's independence, the non-profit organization seeks to promote cultural awareness in the community and to help provide financial assistance to students hoping to attend Garden City Community College by expanding their endowment scholarship fund.

Event festivities include the parade down Main Street, live music, folkloric dancers, food vendors, beer garden and the Fiesta Queen Scholarship Pageant, which is now in its 17th year. 

The Fiesta queen pageant will kick off the Fiesta celebration at 7 p.m. on Friday in Horace Good Middle School’s Clifford Hope Auditorium. Jenifer Bello, Adriana Mendoza and Janisa Nunez will be vying for the title.

Judges for the event include: Geovanni Gone, chief administrative officer for Genesis Family Health; Rodrigo Ruvalcaba, of Rodrigo Ruvalcaba Agency LLC, Farmers Insurance; Rosie Rodriguez Swick, cosmetologist at Illusions Beauty Salon; and Jennifer Brown Cunningham, assistant city manager for the City of Garden City.

On Saturday, the parade begins at 10 a.m. on Main Street, with festivities to follow at Stevens Park at 11 a.m.

Mujica

Parade Marshal for 2021 is Susan Mujica, who just turned 90, and ran for Miss Fiesta in 1954 and became the runner up. Her father-in-law was one of the main organizers for the Fiesta when it began in 1926.

Castillo Chappel said the Fiesta has evolved into a whole community event, celebrated by all in Garden City and its sister cities in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela and El Salvador, celebrating their independence on or around Sept. 16.

"We make sure that we recognize that because we have so much of those cultures that are part of our melting pot in Garden City," she said. "It's become more of a let's get together Fiesta to eat some good food, to listen to some good music and have the kids be part and take part of the celebration so that they know their background as far as where do we come from and where do their parents come from and how did we set a footprint in Garden City." 

Castillo Chappel said it's a family event, but also celebrates Mexican culture. 

"We have an official flag that was donated from the Mexican government, so we fly the flag and we give that official yeah for Mexico and it's independence, but it's also a reminder that Garden City's our community and they let us celebrate who we are proudly," she said. "I think that's the best part of the Fiesta, that we can be who we are without any staples or the fact that we're not a segregated community by any means, that we're well supported by our government and the fact that we provided so much for our city that we love and we call home away from home."

The Fiesta will mostly go on as normal, however they will enforce CDC rules as far as COVID-19 goes by making sure people hand sanitize, wear a mask if they choose and social distancing, Castillo Chappel said. 

"I don't know what to expect as far as crowd, I don't know what it will be like, I think everyone is still kind of hesitant to go out and do things, but our culture tends to be a little bit different in the matter that we will take the precaution and we will be there," she said. 

For more information on the Fiesta go to gcfiesta.org.