Cotton candy, Cinco de Mayo, Denver 2009Cinco de Mayo in downtown Denver was the third festival I attended last Saturday, after International Migratory Bird Day in Boulder and the Colorado Chocolate Festival at the Merchandise Mart on 58th. True to my intentions, I had several donuts in Boulder, multiple samples of ganache at the Chocolate Festival, and two tacos midafternoon.

On the 7 from the Merchandise Mart to downtown Denver, we traveled from suburbia-cum-industrial-areas through what I think was northern Curtis Park, with its stately old houses a little run down, to Uptown and ultimately to Colfax. The bus driver detoured around fenced-off Civic Center Park, where Cinco de Mayo took place, and offered to let me off in the middle of Lincoln Avenue, but when I peeked out, a large truck was charging down that lane. I decided I could wait.

The first thing I noticed about Cinco de Mayo was how packed it was within that encircling fence.Cinco de Mayo crowd shot, Denver 2009 The second thing I noticed was the large number of families. At times, the crowd came to a complete stop, strollers paused, and there seemed to be nowhere to go but straight up. Then the dam burst and we all pushed on through.

My first order of business was trying to get a crowd shot to add to one of my Squidoo lenses that details Denver’s ethnic demographics. Have you ever tried to get a crowd shot that includes 7 white people, 2–3 Latinos, and 1 African American? Without posing people, that is? In any case, I noticed that the crowd at Cinco de Mayo was much more diverse than the typical crowd on the 16th Street Mall.

Then it was time for some food that didn’t involve sweets. I thought Taqueria JaliscoTaqueria Jalisco, Cinco de Mayo, Denver 2009 looked promising and stepped up to order two tacos for $3, which is pretty cheap for festival food. I got to use some of my limited Spanish while asking for 1 barbacoa and 1 adobaba. The green chile and pico de gallo weren’t as hot as I’d feared—in fact, a great deal less—and the tacos lasted me until dinner time.

Vendor booths circled the park, so I started at Colfax and Broadway and ended up back there more than an hour later, having passed belt bucklesBelt buckles, Cinco de Mayo, Denver 2009 and several hundred knock-off Coach bags and a girl playing tennis in between booths and mobiles and Mexican flagsMexican flags, Cinco de Mayo, Denver 2009 and more food boothsFood boths, Cinco de Mayo, Denver 2009 and an entire section of nonprofits until I found this woman with the sombrero traipsing along in front of the Capitol. It was quite a feat to keep up with her; she navigated the crowd as if she were water and it was a streambed.Woman wearing sombrero in front of Capitol, Cinco de Mayo, Denver 2009

In the center of the park, festival sponsors had set up house, beyond the garden beds waiting for flowers and in between the cover band Wide Open and the large band in the Greek amphitheater, which I’m going to guess was Los Profetas del Norte or Los Nietos. While watching the latter at a safe distance (for my ears, that is), I saw a trio of boys all dressed up in Mexican cowboy boots and matching belts and cowboy hats. I have to say, Cinco de Mayo gets people into their best shoes.Mexican cowboy boots, Cinco de Mayo, Denver 2009

In fact, more people dress up for Cinco de Mayo than just about any street festival I’ve ever seen. And then there was this woman, the dance instructor, who has a lot more guts than I do in the wardrobe department.Dance teacher, Cinco de Mayo, Denver 2009

The only thing I regret is that I missed the Mariachi Mass on Mother’s Day. Now that might get me back to church again.

Leave A Comment

  1. BernardL May 12, 2009 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Thanks for the picture tour. It looked like a very entertaining day in Denver. There is actually an International Migratory Bird Day? I’m sure it’s just me, but that seems to cry out for too much time on someone’s hands. 🙂

  2. Betty Bradley May 12, 2009 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Great photos and story. I feel like I was there. Last year was the short overnight trip with the art foundation and we saw a bit of Cinco de Mayo. I got some pretty good photos of some gorgeous costumes.

  3. Beth Partin May 12, 2009 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Bernard, International Migratory Bird Day commemorates the signing of the Migratory Bird Treaty, which affects, for example, which birds hunters can shoot and which they cannot. Since many species of birds that breed in North America winter in Central and South America, it’s an important tool for bird conservation. IMBD is a big day for birders, and birding is a $32 billion industry in the United States.

    Betty, glad you liked it!

    Beth Partin’s last blog post..The Capitol Building on Denver’s Capitol Hill, Part I

  4. BernardL May 12, 2009 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    The only really big bird business in the USA is chicken and turkey. Too bad they don’t migrate. They’d probably have their own day too. 🙂

  5. saint facetious May 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Dag, wish I had seen that instructor! And I think we had tacos from the same booth.

    saint facetious’s last blog post..She gave me poems

  6. Beth Partin May 12, 2009 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Bernard, there is a national ice cream day and a national pie day. I’m sure the industry has gotten someone to designate a national chicken day. And, of course, there is a turkey day.

    Saint, were you there on Saturday? Hey, maybe we passed each other.

    Beth Partin’s last blog post..Downtown Denver Restaurants: Bayou Bob’s

  7. Mary May 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Nice overview of the event! I especially like the perspective of the sombrero-wearing lady you followed. I was hoping to check it out and take some pictures myself, but got home too late.

  8. Beth Partin May 13, 2009 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Mary, I wish I could have gotten a better picture of her. I’ll have to practice my hustling through crowd with a camera.

    Beth Partin’s last blog post..MonHaibun: Must Be Taught

  9. Tracie May 13, 2009 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing the celebration. I didn’t make it out there, but I did go have dinner last Tuesday and celebrate witht the city.

    Tracie’s last blog post..Is there a fool in the room?