SYCAMORE – Instead of just spectating, Lilia Leon, 4, of Sycamore was dancing right along with DeKalb’s Ballet Folklorico Monarcas dancers Sunday at Sycamore’s Cinco de Mayo festival.
Lilia, with her face painted with a depiction of a pink butterfly, even took her grandmother’s hands and swayed to the Latin music, only stopping when the music stopped. Lilia said she loves dancing often.
“Every day. Every day. Every day,” she said while jumping in the air.
Taxco Restaurant, 223 W. State St., Sycamore, held its 17th annual Cinco de Mayo festival on Sunday. The event included live entertainment, a petting zoo, bounce houses and plenty of food.
Taxco Restaurant owner Jesus Romero started the festival in 1998 in honor of the Cinco de Mayo holiday, which celebrates Mexico’s May 5, 1862, win in the Battle of Puebla, when the French Army invaded Mexico and were defeated by a much smaller Mexican Army.
For Romero, a Mexican who moved to the U.S. when he was 17, the holiday symbolizes the country coming together at a time when they were divided by ethnic groups, he said.
“It’s important to share our culture,” Romero said. “In Sycamore, we can come together and raise money for nonprofits.”
The event’s proceeds benefited Kishwaukee College scholarships, Kishwaukee Education Consortium’s culinary program and DeKalb County Community Gardens. According to its website, Sycamore’s Cinco de Mayo festival has raised $121,050 for nonprofit organizations since it began.
Clare resident Stephanie Grimm took her son Tyler, 7, to the festival for his birthday, which is today.
Grimm said the family has attended the Sycamore festival every year, even before Tyler was born. Now that Tyler is older, Grimm said he is learning about Mexican heritage.
“It’s good for him to know, especially about something on the day he was born,” Grimm said.
Numerous dance groups performed in front of a crowd of dozens of people. Krysten Jones, a member of Sycamore Park District’s Zumba class, danced to four different Latin-themed songs.
Jones said dancing to Latin music is a bigger workout than other music the Zumba class dances to. Zumba incorporates dance and exercise, and Sycamore Park District’s group dances to genres such as country, pop and Motown music.
“It’s fast paced,” Jones said of Latin music. “You’re lifting your legs a lot.”
Cortland resident Allison Durand was with her husband and two sons watching the dancers. The family also went to the petting zoo, where they saw goats and chickens. Durand’s two sons also rode ponies and ate chips, salsa and beef tacos.
Durand said experiencing the Cinco de Mayo festival was a rare treat for her and her family.
“You don’t see it everywhere,” she said. “It gives you an experience to a different culture.”
For information, visit www.sycamorecincodemayo.com.