Mexican Fiesta means mariachis, dancing, Mexican food, art and culture on display at the Summerfest grounds Friday through Sunday.
This will be the 39th annual fiesta; the celebration began in 1973 as a south-side street festival to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. In 1977 it moved to the lakefront, where it has grown and expanded along with the area's Mexican and Latino community.
This year the state's largest celebration of all things Mexican will include a tequila tasting, along with familiar favorites, such as the jalapeno-eating contest, freshly baked pan de feria, the low-rider car contest and the two-mile Fiesta Walk to bring awareness to diabetes and obesity.
"For the first time, Fiesta will have a special tequila tasting, and we're honored that the National Chamber for the Tequila Industry in Jalisco, Mexico, is bringing five popular brands of tequila for the tasting," said Teresa Mercado, executive director of Fiesta.
The tequila tasting will cost $5 for five samples. It will be at the Jalisco pavilion from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For those who just want to learn more about tequila -- where it comes from and how it's made -- there will be videos and an explanation from experts at the pavilion, Mercado said.
"This year we hope to stress the cultural activities, including the Aztec ceremony that will be presented for the first time and include the participation of 70 dancers," she said.
The history of the mariachi, the traditional music of Mexico, also will be explored at the "Sounds and Movement of Mexico" stage.
Although there will be traditional Mexican music at the festival, as part of an effort to attract a new, younger generation of Latino music lovers, the popular pop Mexican group Belanova will play Friday, Mercado said.
Other groups that will perform include La Original Banda El Limon, Los Huracanes del Norte and Banda Machos.
Singer Alicia Villarreal will headline at 7:45 p.m. Saturday.
To honor Latino veterans, there will be a special exhibit of historic photos and videos of those who served and, especially, those who received honors such as the Silver Star. A special veterans recognition ceremony will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the cultural pavilion.
There's also lots of dancing from the elaborately dressed groups, from the Ballet Folklorico Poctli Yancuic to the Milwaukee Ballet, the salsarengue contest and a Zumba workout.
Along with the jalapeno-eating contest, there will be the traditional El Grito contest to see who can give the loudest shout-out that stems from the original "grito" for independence.
This year there will be more than 100 vendors of Mexican arts, crafts and merchandise from throughout Mexico at the cultural pavilion.
On Sunday the fiesta begins with the traditional Mass and procession at 10:30 at the Marcus Amphitheater. Bishop Donald J. Hying, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, will officiate.
If you go
What: Mexican Fiesta
Where: Maier Festival Park
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to midnight. Sunday procession and Mass begin at 10:30 a.m.
Admission: $13 for adults at gate; $11 pre-sale; $1 for children ages 3 to 10; 3 and younger free. Reduced festival admission for attending Mass on Sunday of $5.
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