Fiesta Mexicana celebrates Hispanic culture, draws community to catholic church
MT. MORRIS TWP, MI — Fiesta Mexicana is far from new to the congregation of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.
In fact, this year it celebrated its 64th year in the church’s backyard on Coldwater Road.
However, longtime fans of the event might have noticed that this year there were a few changes made. Instead of happening two days like it usually does, all of the event’s music, games and food were packed into one day.
According to Tomas Tello, key organizer of the festival, the church was not sure they would even be able to hold the festival this year.
“We didn’t think we were going to have it,” Tello said. “We didn’t have any sponsorships just yet, we were late going. Our priest that we had is no longer with us.”
After discussing the possibility of having the festival for a single day, Tello and the rest of the church worked to put on this year’s in a day rather than the usual two-day event.
The events began at the church at 11 a.m on Saturday, Sept. 10 and went until 11 p.m. At the center of the festival, inside a building called the San Juan Diego Activity Center, volunteer members of the congregation cooked food for festival attendees. A line stretched throughout the building to buy traditional Mexican food from the church.
The theme of the festival this year was Victory Over Debt. According to Tello, funds from the festival go towards helping pay off debts the church has accrued.
“Our church has been through a lot of changes and a lot of challenges,” Tello said. “More than COVID, but also internally. We’ve been in debt.”
The church held a bilingual mass in English and Spanish at the event this year. Musicians played throughout the night including Grupo Viento from Grand Rapids, Conjunto Rey out of Pontiac, and Karizma Band from Holland.
A small booth near the entrance of the event hosted Bingo. Vendors were set up throughout the festival selling artwork and food.
At 6 p.m. the fiesta held a taco eating contest. The first-place winner won $100 for eating a set amount of tacos before the other contestants.
This year, the festival held a power hour where food was sold at a discount to try and get people to the church earlier in the day.
Robert and Martha Fischer, two parishioners of the church and owners of El Especial Mexican restaurant, have been helping with the festival for the past 5 years.
“If we don’t support [our church], we don’t have events these events,” Robert said. “There’s less parishioners so we need everybody to support the church itself.”
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