Cinco de Mayo is often thought of as a time to drink margaritas and eat tacos, but it’s much more than that. The Cincy-Cinco Latino Festival looks to educate those in and outside the Latino community about Latino cultures, values, and traditions.

In 2002 and 2003 students at the University of Cincinnati were celebrating Cinco de Mayo and it turned disruptive. Cars were overturned and fires were started. Alfonso Cornejo, chairman of the festival, along with a friend decided to make Cinco de Mayo a family and cultural event. “We went to three local companies and asked for their help. We are very lucky to having the founders members still with us today, Procter & Gamble, PNC Bank and Kroger,” he says.

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of the day Mexico gained its independence from Spain. The day commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. In Mexico today, the holiday is more of a regional holiday, celebrated most passionately in the state of Puebla.

The Cincy-Cinco Latino Festival brings old-school traditions from original Mexican celebrations of Cinco de Mayo to present-day Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati. The festival features a number of activities for children as well as adults. Kids will be able to participate in jewelry making, pot painting, fire truck tours, a petting zoo and more. Every day the festival will have free salsa dancing and entertainment.

Although the festival is free, proceeds made from the day of activities go towards giving back to the community. Cornejo says, “We distribute money into local charities that have special programs for Hispanics. So far, in 13 years we have given away $350,000. We’re very proud that we’re the only festival we know of that gives back the way we do.”

The three-day festival begins Friday, May 5, and ends May 7. Click here to find more information. 

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