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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Saturday
Queen, princess, to ride in the parade
Members of El Sol dance in the band shell at the 2021 Cinco de Mayo festival in Great Bend. - photo by File photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend’s annual Cinco de Mayo festival starts at 11 a.m. Saturday with a Main Street parade, followed by an afternoon of music, vendors, food, dancing and entertainment in Jack Kilby Square. The fun continues until 4 p.m.

Organizers Fernando and Martha Delgadillo requested and were approved to add a beer garden to the festival this year.

Musical entertainment will include the Colorado Springs-based band Los Traficantes Del Norte.

The Cinco de Mayo Queen, Aislin Mata, and Princess, Jenifer Hernandez, will ride in the parade and will be recognized on stage. 

Margarita Ayala, a teacher’s aide at Great Bend Middle School, said the procedure for choosing the festival royalty changed last year and is following the same format as 2021. Any student in seventh or eighth grade who was interested could sign up for the competition, as long as they were in good standing at school. They sold tickets for $1 each, with each ticket counting as a vote from the community.

“This gives the opportunity for the community to decide who’s the winner, compared to previous years, like when I participated 20 years ago,” Ayala said. Back then, three judges chose the winners.

Mata received the most votes, earning her the title of queen, and Hernandez was in second place, and thus was named the princess. Three other students participated and will also be recognized.

Those who attend the downtown festival can also expect to see the El Sol folk dance club from Great Bend High School in the parade and performing four dances on stage. Cristina Ingram, who teaches Spanish at GBHS and sponsors the club, said there are 18 students involved this year.

El Sol was created in 1992, the same year GBHS started its ESL program as the district started enrolling greater numbers of limited and non-English speaking students. The dance club was created to involve immigrants in the school and allow them to participate in activities and share their heritage with the community. Today it is open to any student who wants to learn about the Hispanic culture and have fun.

Ingram is also a graduate of GBHS and participated in El Sol all four years she was in high school. She said one of the highlights for members is dressing in traditional costumes and performing Mexican folk dances for live audiences.

Barton County Academy, which typically has several English language learners working to earn high school diplomas, will have members walking in the parade and BCA will set up an info booth on Saturday.

About Cinco de Mayo

In 1994, many Great Bend residents were unfamiliar with the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo – literally the Fifth of May. Since then, it has become an annual spring tradition on the Saturday closest to May 5.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday that recalls the victory of the Mexican army over a French Army at the city of Puebla more than 150 years ago. The French Army had 6,000 men and had been the best in Europe, while the Mexican army had only 2,000 men and very little artillery, but they held off the French troops for over a month, defeating the powerful army on May 5, 1862. It is celebrated to honor the Mexican people who fought for their freedom. 

Today, Cinco de Mayo is more popular in the United States than in Mexico. In many communities, including Great Bend, the festival celebrates the Mexican heritage of many local residents.