Festival Run-Down: The Best and the Worst of Fiestas Patrias de California

This week marks the 199th anniversary of “el grito de Dolores” or, as we norteamericanos like to call it, “the Mexican Independence Day that we thought was Cinco de Mayo”. On September 16, 1810, Mexico threw off the shackles of Spanish rule following a call to arms by one Padre Miguel Hidalgo and what was surely as inspirational a speech as Taylor Swift would have delivered at the MTV VMA’s if given the chance. Since another historic Hidalgo incident, the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo, gave our fair state to the USA three decades and change later, it seems only fitting that at least one day a year, Los Angelenos get a chance to remember the good old days…

Enter this year’s Fiestas Patrias de California. Two days of vendors, family-friendly activities, US Army occupation, food sampling, mountains of carne asada, and more free plastic crap than you’ve ever seen in one place before. The highlight of my experience was watching a couple viejitos tan chulos boogie down to the vocal stylings of a ranchera singer at the bandstand. I’ll be back next year when Mexico hits the big 2-0-0.

Best: food at very non-festival prices, good entertainment, very kid-friendly
Worst: über corporate with 1984 moments