Cries of "Viva la independencia!" will fill the air this weekend at the 10th annual Fiestas Patrias celebration, Santa Ana's annual festival honoring eight Latin American countries that mark their independence in September.
As many as 250,000 people are expected to attend the event in downtown Santa Ana. It will feature live entertainment on two stages, ethnic dances, ceremonies, family activities and foods of various nationalities, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday along Fourth Street between Broadway and French Street.
Fiestas Patrias (patriots party) is sponsored by the Downtown Santa Ana Business Assn. to honor Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile and Belize.
Originally, the festival celebrated only Mexico's independence day (Sept. 16), but over the years it has evolved into a more diverse celebration.
"It used to be just about the independence of Mexico," said Teresa Saldivar, president of the business group. "Then we found out that just about everybody in Central America celebrates their independence in September.
"And since so many people who come downtown are from Central America and South America, we expanded it (in 1995) and made it more of a Latin American celebration."
A star-packed lineup of more than 30 entertainers will perform ranchero, banda, norteno and contemporary pop music.
Headliners will include singer-actors Tito Guizar and Lalo Guerrero, recording artist Mercedes Castro and legendary norteno band Los Cadetes de Linares.
According to Saldivar, festival organizers hope to attract older audiences and families to this year's fiesta by booking more seasoned, traditional performers. Hence the inclusion of veterans Guizar and Guerrero.
Among the dozens of other groups playing throughout the weekend are Banda Los Recoditos, Los Sabios del Norte, Rebelion Nortena, Los Incomparebles de Tijuana, Los Muecas de Mexicali and Mariachi Aguascalientes.
Traditional dance groups include Ballet Folklorico Xcaret and Ballet Folklorico Renacimiento.
New this year is an exhibition area with works by artists from the Santora Arts Building and an activity center by the Bowers Kidseum, which will feature a variety of hands-on fun and face painting for the little ones.
For sustenance, at the many food booths lining the streets, there will be a variety of traditional foods,
Shoppers will find plenty of opportunities to part with their money at the dozens of arts and craft booths throughout the area.
Fiestas Patrias, downtown Santa Ana on Fourth Street between Broadway and French Street. (714) 558-2791. Free. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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The 10th annual Fiestas Patrias will offer entertainment on two stages, product displays, children's activities, food and information booths to celebrate the independence of eight Latin American countries. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sources: Downtown Santa Ana Business Assn., city of Santa Ana