Thursday, May 23, 2024

Inaugural Cinco de Mayo festival serves up Mexican culture in the ByWard Market

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A weekend of Mexican festivities is underway in the ByWard Market, where an inaugural Cinco de Mayo celebration has kicked off.

Vendors have packed William Street preparing authentic tacos, quesadillas, margaritas and more.

“We’ve got Latino bands, we’ve got mariachis, we’ve got dancers and we’ve lots of real Mexican street food,” said organizer Josué Nieto.

From the afternoon into the evening, El Mariachi Aztlán was filling the square with song, setting the scene of a true Mexican market.

For Ana Sofia de la Parra, it was the perfect setting to experience the holiday.

“It’s my first year celebrating Cinco de Mayo with wonderful people, wonderful food and a wonderful atmosphere,” she told CTV News on Saturday.

“It’s not a holiday that we observe at all, but it gives you an excuse to celebrate whenever you can, so knowing that they were going to have this up made me very excited.”

She says she was most excited to take in some authentic Mexican cuisine, which can be hard to come by in the capital.

“The tacos al pastor I’m very excited for because normally in Canada they do them cut up in cubes and that’s not the way you do it! I’m also having cochinita pibil,” she said.

The food is a big draw – lines for pulled pork tacos and Mexican baked goods stretched down the street.

“I think it’s great that we have the opportunity to represent our culture here,” said vendor Johnathan Yasin Medina. “And I feel like it’s great that we can share this with everyone else as well.”

The visitors that poured into the market were more than happy to partake in that culture.

“Our family ordered some tacos and we’ll try to enjoy some good desserts as well,” said one.

“We used to live in Mexico, and we really like to relive the music, the culture, and everything,” said another.

The event has been three years in the making – a joint project between art group Ballet Aztlán Mexico and the Mexican Embassy.

“It’s all about happiness and bringing people together – that’s the real meaning of Cinco de Mayo,” said Nieto.

“Come out and leave happy, because if people leave happy, they’ll be talking about it and next year is going to be even bigger and bigger and bigger.” 

Cinco de Mayo in the ByWard Market continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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