Mex Appeal

Mexico's Fourth of July is September 16, commemorating the day in 1810 when Miguel Hidalgo incited the revolutionary war against Spain. Hidalgo was executed a year later, but his cry of "Mexicanos, Viva Mexico" still sounds at Fiestas Patrias celebrations. Revelry typically includes music, dancing, food, and an El Grito ceremony reenacting Hidalgo's declaration of Mexican independence.

Jalisco-born Miguel Garcia, a Glendale salesman, explains that, every year, "dignitaries in every town lead the people in proclaiming Viva Mexico!'" Garcia says that local festivities are "a way of getting together, making people feel united. You feel that you are Mexican." Commemorate independencia at any of the following events, happening Friday, September 12, through Sunday, September 14.

Out West in Old Town Peoria's Johnny Osuna Park, 10510 North 83rd Avenue, fiestas attractions include food, a parade, a beauty contest, and Latin, salsa and Tejano music. Party in Peoria from 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. See (click on "fiestas patrias") or call 623-773-7198.

Next door to Peoria, APS presents Fiesta Glendale at historic Murphy Park, 58th Avenue and Glendale. Headliners Los Argentinos Gauchos de Fuego showcase the gauchos' working life, using traditional bolas, whips, knives and spurs. Sharing the main stage (but not the artillery) is Ballet Folklorica Fiesta Mexicana, a nationally known group based in Glendale. Latin pop star Jade Esteban Estrada emcees the local talent and also performs at 8 p.m. Friday. Kids can meet street performer Oliver, play loteria, make crafts and rock climb. The free festival runs 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 623-930-2960.

At Patriots Square Park, on Washington between Central and Third Street, Circle K presents Fiestas Patrias de Alma de la Gente. In addition to un gran variedad of music and dance, there are carnival rides, a kids' pavilion, an El Grito ceremony, food and prizes. On Sunday night, catch traditional Mexican fireworks. Get free tickets at Circle K when you buy Coca-Cola, Coors Light or Tecate products, or pay $5 for adults and $2 for children. Proceeds go to the Alma de la Gente ("Soul of the People") Hispanic scholarship program. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. See and click on "Presentation Fiestas" for the entertainment lineup.

A little southeast at Barrios Unidos Park, 16th Street and Mohave, Food City sponsors two days of free Fiestas Patrias activities, with live music, ballet folklorico and an array of Mexican food. Children can party in the playground. Join the festivities from 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.

For a more formal affair, escort your enamorada or enamorado to the Fifth Annual Mariachi Festival, 7 p.m. Saturday at the Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. Starring the all-female group Mariachi Mujer, the show also features music by traditional as well as children's mariachi bands, plus ballet folklorico. Admission is $15 to $25. For tickets or more information, call 480-782-2680.

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Kim Toms