93rd Annual Community Mexican Fiesta this weekend

GARDEN CITY — This weekend’s Garden City Community Mexican Fiesta marks 93 years since its beginning in 1926, and people throughout southwest Kansas are invited to celebrate Sept. 13-14 with the theme of “Abrazando Cultura,” meaning “Embracing Culture.”

“People began emigrating to Garden City from Mexico at the dawn of the 20th Century,” said Angelica Castillo Chappel, Fiesta president.  “The ethic of hard work, strong faith and devotion to family and community that these immigrants brought is something to be truly proud of. This ethic has been passed down from generation to generation, just like the tradition of our community-wide fiesta. We welcome everyone to join in the celebration as we all embrace our cultures.”

The Mexican Independence Day observance, also celebrated in locations across the U.S., has included a parade each year in Garden City since 1928, a fiesta queen crowning that has been staged annually since 1929 and a scholarship pageant connected to the crowning that is marking its 15th anniversary.

Rather than designating a grand marshal for this year’s parade, the fiesta committee has elected to honor Tyson Fresh Meats, the community’s largest employer.  Tyson’s beef processing plant near Holcomb sustained damage in an Aug. 9 fire and is currently closed while undergoing repairs.

“The Fiesta Committee wishes to recognize and honor Tyson’s commitment to reopening, and to the workers and their families who came together in this difficult time,” said Jesse Nuñez, committee member. “We want to commend Tyson for outstanding support of the workers and families affected by the fire.  This commitment to the future exemplifies what we stand for as a community, and we stand with Tyson and honor the courage they have shown.”

The fiesta is based on a legendary cry for freedom, dating to Sept. 16, 1810 and known as “El Grito.”  The cry is attributed to Father Miguel Hidalgo of the village of Dolores, near Guanajuato. Hidalgo called for equal rights, land redistribution, abolition of slavery and Mexican independence from Spain. Today that cry is celebrated on or near the date of Sept. 16 by millions of people in Mexico as well as the U.S.

The celebration is important to Garden City because it is linked to the Mexican heritage that helps shape the community’s unique culture.  Key events include:

• The Fiesta Scholarship Pageant: 7 p.m. Friday in the auditorium of the Pauline Joyce Building at Garden City Community College, sponsored by GCCC.

• The Fiesta Parade, sponsored by Valley State Bank: 10 a.m. Saturday on Main Street.

• A Fiesta celebration: 11 a.m. Saturday in Stevens Park, featuring a series of family-friendly activities, food and live music by Sangre Nortena, The Ortiz Band, Mariachi Real De Oro of Denver, CO., and Garden City-based Compañeros Mix DJ Services. There will also be local Folkloric dancers from Garden City High School and Sol De Mexico, led by Estela Gutierrez.  Local entertainment will continue throughout the afternoon. This year the Fiesta brings back a beer garden sponsored by Western State Bank.

The celebration in the park will begin with an invocation by Father Jacob Schneider of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, singing of the American and Mexican National Anthems by Lupita and daughter Maria Fernanda Sanchez and the traditional “el grito,” by representatives of the Mexican Consulate of Kansas City.

The Fiesta is being made possible by a number of sponsors.  Platinum and gold-level sponsors include Valley State Bank; The Kansas Health Foundation; United Wireless; MBA Real Estate; Western State Bank; GCCC; the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau; American Warrior, Inc.; Clarion Inn, with Samy’s Spirits and Steakhouse; MBA Real Estate; Casco Homes, Inc.; The Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce; Golden Plains Credit Union; the Women’s Clinic at St. Catherine Hospital; LaKe Buena Radio; La Mexicana Radio and Garden City Downtown Vision.

Information about the parade and other Fiesta programs is available from the organization president at 620-290-6264 or, by visiting www.gcfiesta.org.