Everyone in St. Louis knows that among the sea of vintage boutiques, trendy cafes, street art and hip bars, Cherokee Street is the local hub of Mexican culture. Grocery stores with fresh tortillas? Yes, please. The best tacos in the city? La Vallesana has got you covered. The authentic and delicious food and drinks galore on Cherokee will be taking to the streets this Saturday for the annual Cinco de Mayo festival.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a mainstream celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, though the history of this May fifth celebration is often misconstrued. First things first, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.
That’s in September. Cinco remembers the La Batalla de Puebla, or the Battle of Puebla, a feat against French colonization in 1862. The day is still an observance of the battle in Puebla, Mexico that was a historic victory for democracy. Like the Fourth of July, Cinco de Mayo isn’t the actual day that Mexico gained “independence,” the symbolic date has become and event to appreciate culture and community.
On Cherokee, good art, great music and even better food will occupy the street this Cinco. There will be three stages of live music with more than 20 bands throughout the day – plenty of performances to jive to after a Margarita or three. Some of the standouts include SLU alum Javier Mendoza and local celebrity Tef Poe. Street corn, tacos and spiced whole mangos on a stick are some of the treats that festival goers come back for every year.
A unique feature of the festivities on Cherokee is the People’s Joy Parade.
Starting at 1:11 p.m. on the corner of Minnesota St. and winding through the neighborhood to Texas St., the march celebrates the diverse, cohesive and artful community that is Benton Park. Mexican wrestlers, drag queens and Virgins of Guadalupe are just a few of the personas that may pop up along the way.
Even if you’re waiting until Monday to get your cinco de drinko on, stop by the Cherokee Street Cinco de Mayo Festival is this Saturday, May 3, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.