On Sept. 16, 1810, freedom fighter Father Miguel Hidalgo called for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico. Here in the Valley of the Sun, this calls for a party. Festivities for the festival near Papago Park kicked off Friday night with the traditional “Grito de Dolores,” a simulation of Hidalgo’s original cry for freedom.
Then it became a festival for the senses.
Inesperados, a four-piece band from Los Angeles, strummed and drummed traditional Norteño music Saturday night.
Companies and food vendors circled the perimeter of the stadium grounds, chatting of free products and releasing aromas of traditional Mexican barbecue, tacos and soups.
Jimmy Perez, manager of Waldo’s BBQ Catering Company of Mesa, shared some of his secrets for traditional Mexican barbecue.
“First we smoke the meat — chicken, pork and beef — for three-to-four hours,” he said. “Then we mix in spices and wrap it in plastic. Finally, we’ll cook the meats for two more hours in the oven.”
Perez said his staff does most of the cooking in the big kitchen in Mesa, then finish it at the fair.
Evangelina Ibañez, who moved to Phoenix from Oaxaca, Mexico, 19 years ago, said the food is one of her favorite parts of the fair.
She comes to the event every year with her husband and three children. But each member of the family enjoys the celebration for a different reason. Ibañez also cited the atmosphere. Her husband, Eduardo Piceno, likes the music, the lights and the coming together of the people. Their oldest son, Omar, 12, likes the free prizes.
The party is for Mexican independence, but it reflects a joining of cultures: Tacos and pizza, horchata and Budweiser, loteria games and a Ferris wheel packed with many nationalities.
What: Mexican Independence Day festivities
When: Noon to 10 p.m. today
Where: Phoenix Municipal Stadium parking area, 56th Street and Van Buren Street
Cost: $10 for ages 13 and up; free for children under 13