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Cinco de Mayo, ol ! Festival celebrates Hispanic culture

Cinco de Mayo, the commemoration of the Mexican army's victory over the French on May 5, 1862, will be celebrated with music, costumes, and dance throughout Northwest Ohio this weekend.

The largest event will be at Swan Creek Preserve Metropark (Airport Highway entrance), Sunday from 2-6:30 p.m. In case of rain, events will occur under large tents erected for the occasion.

This family festival is put on by Adelante, Inc., the Hispanic-targeted drug rehabilitation and treatment facility, and by the Toledo Area Metroparks. Performers include Jose Martinez y Mariachico Tropical at 2:30 p.m.; Corazon de Mexico dance troupe at 3:25 p.m. and Imagenes Mexicanas dancers at 3:50 p.m.

And for dancing, the popular Fremont band, Los Cuatro Vientos de Jimmy Bejarano, will play from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The family band has been performing for 15 years. It specializes in a tejano style called conjunto, characterized by an accordion and bajo sexto (12-string bass guitar).

Once considered the music of the poor migrant worker, conjunto blends elements of polkas and waltzes with indigenous Mexican rhythms and melodies.

Los Cuatros Vientos (The Four Winds) are regular performers at the five-day Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio.

Complimentary refreshments will be served on a first-come, first-served basis, said Celso Rodriguez, chairman of Adelante's board.

Cinco de Mayo (the Fifth of May) has become the largest Mexican festival in the north and Midwest, but in Mexico and the southern United States, Sept. 16, Mexico's independence day, is the largest celebration, said Mr. Rodriguez.

People of Hispanic heritage number more than 35 million in the United States, about the same number as people of African heritage, according to the census of 2000.

In West Toledo, the 13th annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta begins today with an ox roast and tailgate fiesta at 5 p.m. at BW-3 Grill & Pub, 2111 Mellwood Ave. Tomorrow's events begin at 2 p.m. with an introduction by Judge Joseph Flores.

Entertainment includes Jose Martinez and group at 2:30 p.m.; comic-impressionist Johnny Ginger at 3 p.m.; and Homero Ortiz singing the folk songs of the late Cornelio Reyna at 4 p.m.

A Jalapeno pepper-eating contest will take place about 5 p.m., said Izzy Ortiz, the event's promoter.

The name-that-tune game will be played at about 6 p.m. And at 9 p.m., La Familia band, which includes accordion, plays tejano, polka, cumbia, merenga, and salsa for dancing, said Mr. Ortiz.

Other events include:

  • Today, 3-6 p.m. Tacos and elephant ears will be served, and Imagenes Mexicanas dancers will perform at a program for children at the East Toledo Family Center, 1020 Varland Ave. Also, John Luna and the Renegades will play.

  • Tonight, 6-8 p.m. The Waite High School Hispanic Cultural Club hosts a program on the various cultures of Hispanic people. It includes a potluck dinner and entertainment, followed by a high school dance from 8 to 10 p.m.

  • Saturday, 1-6 p.m. at the Wood County Junior Fair Building in Bowling Green. It's the ninth year for this free festival. Featured are Corazon de Mexico, a youth dance group; pinatas, a magician, and an ethnic costume contest. Mexican food will be sold as well as Mexican pottery, blankets, clothes, and music, said Marsha Olivarez, chairwoman.

  • Saturday, 8 p.m. to midnight. Dance to the music of Los Cuatro Vientos de Jimmy Bejarano at the Wood County Junior Fair Building in Bowling Green. A scholarship benefit sponsored by the Latino Networking Committee of Bowling Green State University. Cost: $10.

  • Saturday, 7 p.m. to midnight. Dinner and dance sponsored by the Toledo Jeep Hispanic Association with recorded music by DJ Bob Rios. At UAW Local 12 Hall, 2300 Ashland Avenue. Cost: $15.

  • The seventh annual Hispanic High School and Junior High School Art Show runs through the end of May at the Central Union Terminal, 415 Emerald Ave.

  • Studio Latino, a youth dance troupe that mixes traditional Mexican and modern dance, performs at Don Pablo's Restaurant, 6040 Knights Inn Place, Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. and at Carlita's Mexican-Italian Restaurant, 4709 Douglas Rd., at 6 p.m. Saturday.

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