Fiestas Patrias Festival celebrates Aurora’s Mexican culture

After two years off due to the pandemic, the Aurora Fiestas Patrias Festival was back over the weekend at RiverEdge Park to celebrate the city’s rich Mexican culture.

The festivities, which ran Saturday and Sunday, were organized by the city of Aurora and the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board.

“This is the first year the city of Aurora and Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board decided to make Fiestas Patrias an official city event,” Aurora Director of Communications Tony Martinez said.

To mark the return of the festival, organizers decided to change the location from the Aurora Transportation Center parking lot at Spring and Lincoln streets to RiverEdge Park and to elevate the overall event in part by inviting two international performing artists to play on the main stage.

The artists typically perform to sell-out crowds for considerably higher ticket prices than the $10 festival entrance fee, city officials said.

“The initial concept of the park was to hold community festivals,” Martinez said. “It’s a beautiful location along the river and provides all of the security requirements that cities have to be conscious of in this day and age.”

Six-time Grammy-winning Cuban Reggaeton duo Gente De Zona was the headlining performer Saturday and Jalisco technobanda Banda Machos closed the festivities Sunday.

It’s probably the only time the public could see the two international acts on stage for a $10 entrance fee each day, Martinez said.

“That’s what sets this event apart from all others – giving our community access to musical entertainment and cultural activities,” Martinez said.

Regional and local acts performed on the stage as well.

Proceeds from the festival will go towards college scholarships assisting Aurora students of Hispanic descent.

“We know this is a beloved event that takes a lot of resources. In this day and age when cities are cutting back on large events, we wanted to make sure this one stayed strong and remains safe for years to come,” Martinez said.

Fiestas Patrias commemorates the date of Mexico’s independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810.

US Marine veteran Juan Hernandez returned to his hometown Aurora with his wife Joanna to immerse their three children Kaylani, 9, Dominic, 6, and Draco, 2, in the city’s Mexican culture at the festival.

“It’s important to share the city’s culture that I grew up in with my young family,” Hernandez said.

The Yorkville couple has a child on the way as well.

Rosa Reos, co-owner of Dulceria de Aurora, had Mexican sweet and hot candies made either of sugar or spice as well as colorful pinatas for sale at her booth at the fest.

“This festival is nice for families to enjoy music and food,” said Reos, who owns the store with her husband and brother in Aurora.

Festival-goers could walk to a free carnival across the bridge from RiverEdge Park and enjoy vendors at Wilder Park Promenade.

Robert and Marcia Taylor rode the Metra train from Lisle with their 13-year old son, Jack, to attend the Aurora festival.

“We regularly come to RiverEdge Park,” Robert Taylor said. “We appreciate the river setting and that the park is safe, clean and well-managed.”

Linda Girardi is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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