Music filled the fairgrounds all weekend long as Hermiston hosted its annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.
The event, which outgrew its previous homes at various city parks and downtown streets, took place at the Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center on Friday through Sunday.
On Saturday, the slate of live performances kicked off at 5 p.m. Luz Lopez of Boardman, who was listening with her friends from the bleachers, said she hoped people got up and started dancing soon.
“I came here because of the music, and I wanted to dance,” she said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve danced.”
She said she appreciated the local volunteers that come together each year to put on the event.
Lopez said she was there because it seemed like a fun way to spend a Saturday night, but also because “it’s my culture.”
While Americans sometimes incorrectly assume that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s independence day, the holiday actually marks Mexicans’ victory in a single battle against the French in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla.
In the United States, the day has evolved into an opportunity for Mexican-Americans to celebrate their heritage.
Bands performing throughout the weekend ranged from local bands to international stars, such as Huichol Musical.
Other performers included Paso Firme, Plebilloz Style, Inizzio Norteño, Cuarto Concepto, Herencía con Estilo and more. There was also dancing by Baile Folklorico.
Christian Contreras, a guitarist from the local group Herencía con Estilo, was spending time with friends Saturday while waiting to go on. He said he always enjoys the games, food and music at Hermiston’s Cinco de Mayo celebration.
“We’re here to just chill and have fun,” he said.
In addition to live music the weekend featured a carnival, food vendors, beer garden and a pageant.
Lili Juarez was crowned this year’s Miss Cinco de Mayo during the pageant on Sunday afternoon. Also competing for the title were Hermiston teens Nayeli Resendiz, Paloma Silva and Bresieda Sandoval.
Juarez told the Hermiston Herald that winning the title of Miss Cinco de Mayo meant a lot to her because it was a way to show her pride in her heritage. She said she felt honored to represent her culture and her family, who have taught her the importance of never giving up on her dreams.
“As I grow older, I fall more and more in love with my culture and our beautiful traditions,” she said in an email. “I’m proud to be a part of such hard working culture, who come here with nothing and work hard everyday for a better future for their families.”
The Hermiston High School student enjoys cheerleading and fishing, and said she loves playing with makeup. After she graduates she plans to attend cosmetology school.