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Denver’s Cinco de Mayo Festival grows with its popularity
La Voz Staff Photo

By Joshua Pilkington

Now that the last spring snowstorm in the metro area - one can hope - has left its mark, the time has come to turn our collective attention to warmer weather, colorful music and folkloric dancing, all of which can be found at Denver’s 32nd annual Cinco de Mayo Festival.

As always the streets around Civic Center Park will be filled this weekend with hundreds of retail and food vendors, plenty of live music performing on three stages, and, if the current weather pattern holds, lots of sunshine.

“The weather looks like it’s going to be really good and I think we will get around the same attendance we did last year,” said Andrea Barela, President and CEO of NEWSED, the community development corporation that produces the event. “I think we’ll see around 400,000 people over the two days.”

The event kicks off on Saturday at 10 a.m. with a free Zumba class on the local stage and live music and dance will continue throughout the day on the main, local and community stages, culminating with a performance by Banda La Chacaloza de Jerez at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Lowrider Car Show

The Cinco de Mayo Festival will expand this year as well as the lowrider car show will go shift into another gear and take its wares all the way to Broadway.

“We reconfigured this year to give them more space and this year there is quite a bit more of them,” Barela said of the cars on display along Colfax Ave., from Cherokee to Broadway. “They are going to be a pretty substantial part of the event.”

She added that a new wrinkle has been added to the car show this year as well, outside of the additional space.

“They are also going to be doing a car-hop contest this year,” she said. “Where they’ll measure how high [the cars] can jump. It’s the first time we’ve ever done something like that.”

The lowrider car show will last all weekend, but the car-hop contest will be at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday near Broadway and Colfax.


Joining the car show in terms of expansion this year is the Cinco de Mayo parade, one of the largest draws of the festival.

“That kicks off at 11 a.m. on Saturday,” Barela said. “And it’s going to be a little bit bigger than previous years, so we’re excited about that. There will be lots of community participation and a lot of fun.”

That community participation is set to include a lot of dance groups, the South High School drum line and a charro group that will serve as the parade’s grand finale as it winds its way from its start at Colfax and Welton to the finish at Lincoln and 13th Ave.

Big-screen worthy events

There will be a new wrinkle this year as well for two of the festival’s biggest events, the Chihuahua races and the taco eating contest.

“One of the things we are doing differently with both the Chihuahua races and the taco eating contest is we are going to have a large screen where people can view what is happening, better,” Barela said. “We’ve never done something like that before and I think it will really give the event more presence and give people a better perspective of what they are looking at.”

The Chihuahua races will begin Saturday at 2 p.m. and the taco eating contest will commence at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Those who have attended the Cinco de Mayo Festival in the past know well that shade and seating can be scarce. With that in mind the Tecate seating area was created.

“We have a really nice Tecate cantina seating area this year that’s going to feature a photo both,” Barela said. “It makes sense for the event. People need places to eat and drink and just relax in the shade.”

For a full list of events including contests, entertainment, vendors and the parade route visit





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