The annual Cinco de Mayo celebration at Sedgwick County Zoo has become one of the city’s largest of its type, and one of the zoo’s busiest Sundays of the year.
“We just wanted to bring a partnership that would bring authentic music and culture to the community,” said RosAnna Salcido, sales manager for Radio Lobo, whose owner, the Journal Broadcast Group, is the event’s main sponsor.
Now in its 11th year, Sunday’s event will feature Mexican food, music, a Miss Cinco de Mayo contest and more. Regular zoo admission applies.
Music is one of the highlights of the celebration, which commemorates the May 5, 1862, victory of Mexican forces over a French army near the city of Puebla.
This year the lineup includes DJ Tynno Morales, who starts things off at noon. Myztiko Musical, which plays a style known as tamborazo, performs at 1 p.m.; Los B-OK, which plays in the cumbia genre, takes the stage at 2 p.m. Oscar Padilla and his banda nortena group begin at 3:30 p.m. And the headliner, Innovacion, starts at 4:30 p.m. with a blend of regional Mexican music.
“What we want is to offer different genres every year,” said Arnoldo Gonzalez, the radio station’s music director.
At least five vendors will sell Mexican food and cold beverages – Lalo’s Express, El Pollo Dorado, Los Campadres, Happy Corn, all of Wichita; and Tacos de Mary from Hutchinson.
Happy Corn serves elotes, a corn preparation “with the mayonnaise and cheese and chili and lime,” Salcido said, while El Pollo offers grilled chicken with a signature marinade and “awesome beans.”
New this year is a Kids Zone, where children can compete in a video soccer tournament modeled on the upcoming World Cup.
“It’s kind of a kickoff to the World Cup,” Salcido said.
And for the third year, a Miss Cinco de Mayo will be chosen by voters at event. The winner is chosen from young women who’ve submitted their photos to the radio station’s website.
After voting, people can spin a wheel for a chance to win one of about 300 T-shirts printed for the event. “It’s kind of a tradition. People look forward to it. They try to collect the shirts every year,” Salcido said.
Students from North High volunteer to help set up the event, and clean up afterward.
While not everybody who comes to the zoo on Sunday even realizes they will be attending a Cinco de Mayo festival, Salcido said, they’re usually glad they did.
“It’s a well-mixed crowd,” she said. “We do get a lot of our listeners, but it’s really the whole community.”
And if the weather forecast holds – 90 degrees and sunny for Sunday afternoon – maybe we can thank the organizers.
“We pray for good weather,” Salcido said.