Cinco de Mayo (Mexican Festival)
Cinco de Mayo is a May 5th celebration which some say it is more popular in the United States than in Mexico.14 That is, except in Puebla. This celebration commemorates the Batalla de Puebla (Battle of Puebla), which marked the 1862 victory against the French invasion of Mexico in 1862.15 Gatlinburg hosted its second annual Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 5, 2012.
This event which took place in the parking lot of the Loco Burro Restaurant in downtown Gatlinburg, featured traditional music, dancing, and foods representing the cultural heritage of Mexico and other Central American and Caribbean countries. Entertaining the audience were several folk artists featured in this essay, including The Grupo Folclórico Santa Cruz, Santos Ascensio, Las Catrachas del Cerro de Plata, SalsaKnox, and DJ Azul (see respective sections in Part Two of this essay)
Espuelas de America, a mariachi from Atlanta, Georgia, performed all day throughout the event. The Grupo Folclórico Santa Cruz from Pigeon Forge performed a variety of Mexican regional folk dances with children as well as adult dancers. Many of the costumes worn by the Santa Cruz dancers are made by Socorro Armenta, one of the group’s instructors and founders. SalsaKnox of Knoxville taught people how to dance basic salsa steps in addition to offering a rousing group performance. Karaoke Entertainment by Azul encouraged audience members to sing songs throughout the day. Santos Ascencio, a singer from Honduras, performed Mexican rancheras, Honduran punta and other styles of music from Central America. One of highlights of the event was a tamale eating contest. Another Honduran musician, Heberest, sang original works and popular rock songs in Spanish as well as a more traditional repertoire of songs from Honduras. Not to be missed were the local clowns and the chihuahua parade with their humans dressed in traditional Mexican clothing. Gatlinburg has celebrated Cinco de Mayo two years in a row.
Watch Video 50: Santos Ascensio sings along with mariachis during Cinco de Mayo Festival. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Watch Video 53: Waldo Solano and Jackie Sellers, SalsaKnox, dance to a song by Juan Carlos Gutierrez.
Photo 47: Rosa and Socorro, members of Grupo Folclórico Santa Cruz welcome people to the Cinco de Mayo Festival in Gatlinburg, 2012. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Photo 48: Mariachi band greet customers of Loco Burro restaurant, site of Cinco de Mayo Festival. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Photo 49: Grupo Folclórico Santa Cruz perform at Cinco de Mayo Festival. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Photo 51: Young dancers, members of Grupo Folcórico Santa Cruz. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Photo 52: SalsaKnox Waldo Solano leads a salsa class at Cinco de Mayo Festival. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Photo 54: Young Mexican dancer takes a break and poses for pictures. Photo by Rafael Casco.