An ‘authentic’ Cinco de Mayo celebration

Posted: April 20th, 2018 | Feature, Top Story | 1 Comment

By Cassidy Klein

The 35th annual Old Town Cinco de Mayo celebration, happening May 4–6, is a fiesta Laurel McFarlane of McFarlane Promotions calls “authentic and amazing.”

“It is an amazing festival and we hope all will come out and enjoy,” McFarlane said. “[The festival] showcases Old Town, and it’s is free. We have worked really hard to bring authentic elements to it.”

Dancers at last year’s celebration (Photo courtesy of McFarlane Promotions)

Around 100,000 attendees are expected to attend the free event. The fiesta will include a mercado (marketplace) with 50 food and merchandise vendors, entertainment from over 30 entertainers of multiple music genres, Lucha Libre fights, a car show, drink and restaurant specials and free activities for kids such as stagecoach rides, face painting and arts and crafts. Attendees can also explore Old Town’s museums and shops.

“[The Old Town fiesta] is one of the largest celebrations in the country, and not only has a huge event on the streets, but also has a large sister festival in the historic park at the same time,” McFarlane said.

McFarlane Promotions has been involved in running the event for over 10 years. In that time, they have helped grow the festival from two days to three days and have incorporated more events and performances.

“We have added Lucha Libra and a LowRider Show and have worked hard to make the stage incorporate all types of Latin music,” McFarlane said. “We also are doing a showcase of mariachis on Sunday [May 6].”

Traditional and contemporary Mexican music will be featured at Old Town Cinco de Mayo. (Photo courtesy of McFarlane Promotions)

Various Old Town restaurants, including Fred’s Mexican Cafe, are known for their drink specials during the festival and enjoy being involved in the festivities.

“We try to be a part of the community,” said Steve Bassium of Fred’s Mexican Cafe. “Cinco de Mayo is the one time of the year when people from all over San Diego come. People from all over the world come, but it’s just a real fun, great event.”

Fred’s is offering specials on Dos Equis drafts, Herradura margaritas, Frida Kahlos and more.

“Fred’s is a little bit different form the other restaurants in Old Town in that we’re a little less traditional, we’re a little more Cali-Mex,” Bassium said. “We’re a little bit edgier, so we just kinda come in, have fun, throw a party and people enjoy themselves.”

Old Town Cinco de Mayo is a family-friendly event with lots of activities for children. (Photo courtesy McFarlane Productions)

Since parking is limited in Old Town, attendees are encouraged to use public transportation, such as the trolley’s Green Line or the numerous bus stops, which have a hub at the Old Town Transit station.

Cinco de Mayo is a historic celebration that commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory against Napoleon III’s French army at the battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

McFarlane said that funds raised during the event go to the Historic Old Town Community Foundation which helps fourth-grade programs that teach California history.

McFarlane hopes families who attend will “enjoy the food and booths, visit the local merchants, dance to the live music, enjoy the children’s area and go on stagecoach rides in the park.”

Bassium encourages San Diegans to come out and not only enjoy the history and culture, but have fun drinks with friends as well.

“It’s one big party,” he said.

— Cassidy Klein is an editorial intern at San Diego Community News Network, the parent company of the San Diego Uptown News. Reach her at

One Comments

  1. judy garrett says:

    beautiful……your article, front page. I can’t believe it! This has to be UNUSUAL…….college journalism student on FRONT PAGE of newspaper… so wonderful, colorful love you, juju

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