An estimated 80,000 festival goers attended this year’s Mexican Fiesta 2015, according to volunteers and organizers.
By H. Nelson Goodson
August 24, 2015
Milwaukee, WI – An update about Mexican Fiesta 2015: according to former Mexican Fiesta Ambassador Vanessa Vasquez Facebook posting, she claims that more than 80,000 people attended this year’s Fiesta over the weekend. No official record of attendance has been released from Mexican Fiesta 2015. Also, no one was reported banned from the Mexican Fiesta for having body art on their face or body deemed distasteful to Fiesta organizers, police and the LPOA security, according to unofficial preliminary Milwaukee police and Latino Peace Officers Association (LPOA) reports. This year’s music venue included, the Tejano Show Case with Ram Herrera, Casey Zavala, Oscar G., David Farias, Michael Salgado, Liberty Band, XS Band and Tejano Highway 281. Mexican Fiesta performers were Bachatero Joe Veras, Carmen La Salsera with Cache Pueblo Latino and Mexican music venue that included Los Invasores de Nuevo Leon, Pablo Montero, Chuy Lizarraga y su Banda Tierra Sinaloense, Grupo Kual?, Mariachi Cobre, Espinosa Paz, Dinastia Norteña and La Sonora Internacional USA.
In brief history, two years ago, Mexican Fiesta in Milwaukee banned Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) from the Mexican Fiesta Office during a press conference for first reporting on August 24, 2013 that Fiesta was enforcing a discriminating policy to ban people with certain facial and body tattoos from assisting the Mexican Fiesta at the Summerfest grounds because they were deemed as gang members or would-be gang members even if they were not or did nothing wrong at the Fiesta grounds. HNNUSA also reported in 2013 about Mexican Fiesta’s discriminating policy not to award scholarships to DREAMers. According to their website in 2013, Mexican Fiesta claimed that it had given more than $2.5M in scholarships, but HNNUSA discovered that not one single dollar was ever awarded to DREAMers because they were prohibited from applying for scholarships.
The Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation Board (WHSF), which sponsors the Mexican Fiesta three-day festival at the Summerfest grounds and the National LULAC changed their discriminating policy after Hispanic News Network U.S.A. exposed the exclusion of DREAMers from applying for scholarships.
Last year in 2014, the WHSF began to accept scholarship applications from registered DREAMers. The LULAC National gave a matching scholarship fund as well and also had excluded DREAMers from getting scholarships.
Some have asked, how did Salsa, Bachata and Merengue music venue was introduced at the annual Fiesta? Well, Puerto Rican (PR) music was first introduced back in 1983 to the Fiesta Mexicana when I suggested it at the time to La Fiesta Mexicana organizers, which were having a volunteer party at Margaritas Bar and Hall on W. Windlake Avenue. The Fiesta Mexicana sponsor was Latin American Union for Civil Rights (LAUCR) which was headed by Executive Director Salvador Sanchez and former UMOS director.
The Fiesta Mexicana organizers finally agreed that it would boost attendance and the first PR artist to appear at the Fiesta Mexicana was Willie Colón from NY. The year after, I briefly joined the Fiesta Mexicana Board and when a Board meeting took place, one of the Board members was opposed to continue to have a Puerto Rican band play again at Fiesta Mexicana claiming it wasn’t a PR fest, but when I brought up Willie Colón’s successful performance including a huge attendance and how the grounds were packed, the Board once again decided to bring another PR artist, Ray Barreto performed and the year after Frankie Sabath.
The PR music venue was a success in generating funds at the old Summerfest Miller stage and ever since then, a Salsa band, Merengue or Bachata artist performs at the annual festival, regardless of non-profit organization that sponsors the Fiesta. Not to many people know about my influence to stop discrimination among cultures in our own community and bridging harmony by working together for the benefit of our community.
The Puerto Rican community is credited and was also involved with the Mexican community in the 1970’s activism and the take-over of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) to allow Hispanics to enroll. Only 14 Hispanics were enrolled on August 27, 1970 compared to 27,000 White students.
Our community united and took over UWM and succeeded in eliminating the discriminatory policy and barrier that kept Hispanics from enrolling at UWM due to high prerequisites demand in which Hispanic students were not being prepared by the Milwaukee Public School system with college bound courses needed to pass college tests for enrollment.
Today, the doors of education remain open and basically anyone seeking a higher education can enroll without any problems. The annual Fiesta was first created by the community founders and activists to generate funds for scholarships to students to attend universities and colleges throughout the State of Wisconsin.
On August 27th, it will mark the 45th Anniversary of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee take-over by the Hispanic community to break down the discriminatory policy and barrier to keep Hispanics from enrolling at the university.
Update: On Tuesday, Mexican Fiesta 2015 confirmed that more than 80K people attended the three-day fest.