Cinco 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. 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 Jalisco 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 buckles and several hundred knock-off Coach bags and a girl playing tennis in between booths and mobiles and Mexican flags and more food booths 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.
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.
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.
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.