Cinco de Mayo times three: Celebrate in St. Paul and Minneapolis


Cinco de Mayo is coming again — with celebrations in St. Paul on May 1 and 2 and in Minneapolis on May 3 and May 10.

Saint Paul

The Cinco de Mayo Fiesta in Saint Paul on Friday May 1, and Saturday May 2 is open to anyone who enjoys the excitement, flavors, sounds and crowds of a street fair. More than 100,000 people are expected to come to César Chávez street on the west side of Saint Paul for the 27th celebration of Cinco de Mayo Fiesta presented by REDA (Riverview Economic Development Association), a community development corporation. Saturday’s parade, beginning at 10 a.m., features floats, performers and tens of thousands of people in attendance.

Attendees can enjoy live music — headliner Banda la Unica de Jerez plays Saturday at 5:00 p.m., and other musical groups play on multiple stages on both days. (Music schedule here. The Fiesta features cultural performances and many booths of authentic Latin American (and local) foods, as well as activities including the “People’s Choice” salsa eating contest on Saturday, and a lowrider car show and contest with a prize of $250 on Friday from 4-9 p.m.

Friday’s events run from 4:00-9:00 p.m. Saturday’s festivities begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 6:00 p.m.

The city of St. Paul sought and obtained an injunction barring 10 alleged members of the Sureño 13 gang for the duration of the Cinco de Mayo festival. The injunction bans them from using gang signs, intimidating anyone, wearing gang clothing or associating with known gang members inside a “safety zone” around the festival from 4 p.m. May 1 to 6 a.m. May 3.

Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May, is the official date of the defeat of French forces in 1862 in the town of Puebla (not Mexico’s Independence Day; a common misperception). The holiday is celebrated regionally in Mexico, and more broadly in the United States as a celebration of all Americans of Mexican ancestry. St. Paul’s fiesta, according to REDA spokesperson Brian Gioielli, has become a celebration of all local Latino culture. Music, dances and foods come from all over Latin America.

And of course, non-Latinos are welcome as well. Gioielli estimates that 50 percent of those present are local Latinos, and the rest are other community members.

Dancers at Cinco de Mayo 2006 in St. PaulPhoto by massdistraction. Published under Creative Commons license

Environmentalists should also feel at home at the celebration. “We’re trying go green this year,” said Gioielli. “We’re promoting recycling and are working with some of our vendors to do food waste reduction. Also, we are encouraging alternate modes of transportation, so we have a secure bike parking lot this year.” Volunteers will encourage food waste recycling on-site and bi-lingual branded recycling containers will be available.

Volunteers are still needed. To sign up go to the REDA website.


In Minneapolis, Lake Street has two Cinco de Mayo celebrations, one on the May 3 and one on May 10.

The May 3rd event happens at the intersection of 27th & Lake starting at noon and will feature live music, authentic Mexican street food and a beer garden, a low-rider car show, and Senator Patricia Torres Ray and Council Member Gary Schiff as speakers. After beginning with an Aztec blessing ceremony and Ballet Folklorico Mexico, the music continues with music, including Emperador Azteca, Deseo Musical, Los Chinelos de Morelos, Los Lobos Nortenos, dance contests and Banda la Verdadera. The two headliner bands are Mazzizo Musical and Conjunto Matador. Family activities including inflatables, clowns and face painting will take place in the Minnehaha Liquors parking lot. [For more information, see event listing or call call Maya Santamaria at (651) 231-1304 or email This celebration is sponsored by: El Nuevo Rodeo, La Mera Buena 107.5 FM and 106.1.2 HD, La Que Buena Restaurant, La Hacienda Restaurant, Chihuahua Boots, Durango Western Wear, Jesse’s Autos and many more!

On May 10, two stages featuring big name bands flown in from Mexico will be the main attraction at annual Cinco de Mayo celebration on Lake Street between 2nd and Portland, from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. The celebration is hosted by Sabri Properties. Local ethnic (mainly Mexican) food and retail booths will line the streets as well.

Sabri manager Rochelle Barrett says that no extra precautions are being taken this year due to recent surges in gang violence. She believes that the precautions they take are strong enough. Sabri hires 20 off-duty Minneapolis police, and 30 private security personnel, in addition to on-duty police in the area. “There is always a concern for large events,” she said, “since gangs like to be out in public and make their presence known.””

The Minneapolis Cinco de Mayo celebration started as advertising and marketing for local businesses, most of which are located in Sabri-owned properties.

In addition to live music, there will be DJed music, and activities for kids, including pony rides and inflatable jumping rooms.

The headliner bands are Sangre Michoacana and Atravancado. The other bands include La Banda La Verdadera, Deseo Musical, Los Lobos Nortenos, and Emperador Azteca. Los Chinelos de Morelos (traditional carnival dancers) and a folkloric dance group will also be performing.

Laura Spencer, a student at Macalester College and an intern at the TC Daily Planet, contributed reporting to this article.

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