Tuesday, July 10 marks the official start of the 85th Annual Fiesta Mexicana. Since its outset this community fundraiser, planned and operated by Our Lady of Guadalupe parish and community volunteers, has celebrated Mexican culture with the public through art, entertainment, food and community. Today the Fiesta continues to be a meaningful and well-attended event, with some attendees driving from country just to take part in the five-day celebration. Music, culture, dance, food, family, friends and fun await at the Fiesta Mexicana of Topeka.
Saturday, July 7, 2018 - Fiesta Parade, Fiesta 5K Run/Walk, the Inaugural Fiesta Disc Golf Tournament, Fiesta Royalty Coronation Ball
July 10-14 - 85th Annual Fiesta Mexicana
First, a Brief History Lesson
The first Fiesta Mexicana took place on August 17, 1933, on the grounds of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. It was organized by Father Augustine Cuarterro and the parishioners, with the special assistance Mrs. Genevieve McDade, a local philanthropist. The entire operation was a community effort. Locals performed music and dances traditional to different parts of Mexico. Food was made at home and brought to the church grounds to be sold. Although it was only day-long event, it proved so financially successful that the public requested it be held again the next year. It wasn't long before the event expanded and grew to a near week-long annual celebration, attended by crowds in the thousands.
The Sights and Sounds
The Fiesta Mexicana offers a feast of sights and sounds for all ages to enjoy.
The traditional Mexcian dance showcase is at the center of the Fiesta's host of attractions. Performed by various local and regional dance troupes, the Fiesta dancers will have you mesmerized with their rhythmic steps perfectly punctuated by their gracefully flowing Fiesta garments. Past acts have included Aguilas Aztecas, Bailes Mestizos and Ballet Folklorico De Topeka and Our Lady of Guadalupe Dancers.
Music along with dance has always been an integral part of the Fiesta since its inception. In addition to banda, norteño, salsa and English mainstream acts, the Fiesta has long paid homage to its roots through its continued inclusion of mariachi and Tejano
This year's daily Fiesta headliners include Calle Seis, Chicos De Barrio, Los Gracias Bros, Los Ligaditos and Grupo Bronco.
Visit the Marlo Cuevas-Balandran Activity Center for the Fiesta Mexicana Art Show, an exhibit of color, form and expression by some of the uniquely talented families in the barrio community. The show begins at 4:30 p.m. everyday of the Fiesta.
Make your way downtown on Saturday, July 7 for the Fiesta Parade, one of the Fiesta's most highly anticipated pre-opener festivities. This year the parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. at 4th Street and Kansas. Offering sea of colors, cars and characters, the parade is a combined effort put forth by the community that you shouldn't miss out on.
For generations the Fiesta has been known for its authentic Mexican food offerings. Food sales begin at 4 p.m. everyday and continue until the food is sold out. The anticipation of homemade sopa, enchiladas, tamales, burritos, tostadas and tacos at Fiesta keeps people flocking to the church grounds well into the evening. It is not uncommon to sell over 10,000 items a night. Food preparation for the Fiesta includes months of careful and tradition filled planning.
The Coronation Ball:
One of the most defining moments in the Fiesta Royalty campaign is the culmination of all the hard work and efforts each candidate and their families experience and the revelation of who the next King and Queen will be for the upcoming year. Held Saturday, July 7 at the Kansas Expocentre's Agriculture Hall, the ceremony will commence at 7 p.m., followed by the dance at 8 p.m.
The Fiesta Mercado, located near the front of the church, offers authentic Mexican items for purchase. These items include clothing (Fiesta attire), religious items (medals and holy cards, as well as hand-made 1-decade rosaries), handmade bracelets and jewelry, novelty items, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Fiesta souvenirs (postcards, etc.), and much more.
The nightly Carnival offers a wonderland of neon lights, timeless rides, enticing games and traditional carnival food. Hours are 6 to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, and 6 p.m. to Midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Friendly Fiesta Competitions:
In addition to music, food and folly, the Fiesta will play host to several friendly physical competitions. On July 7, the Annual Fiesta 5K Run/Walk will take place in the Oakland Community at 8 a.m. At the same time, across town at Lake Shawnee Disc Golf Course, registration will be opening for the Fiesta's Inaugural Disc Golf Tournament at Lake Shawnee Disc Golf Course (with tee-off starting at 9:15 a.m.). On Friday, July 13 the Fiesta Mexicana 2018 Golf Tournament will take place at Western Hills Golf Course; the shotgun start will commence at 8 a.m.
Whether this is your first Fiesta or your 85th, you are guaranteed a good time full of unique entertainment, food and fun at the 2018 Fiesta Mexicana of Topeka.
Much of the information in this article was gathered from Our Lady of Guadalupe's offical Fiesta Mexicana website and Facebook page.