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HUNTINGTON PARK : 200,000 Get a Taste of Mexico at Fair

October 16, 1994|SIMON ROMERO

The mariachis trumpeted, the tacos were devoured and the dances were raucous as more than 200,000 people jammed Pacific Boulevard last weekend for the annual three-day "Sabor a Mexico" street fair.

The annual cultural celebration and salute to the patria , or homeland, included everything from the sale of red, white and green Mexican flags to frenetic quebradita dance contests.

"It was so much fun up there on the stage," said 9-year-old Bobby Martinez of El Monte, who came with his family to dance and eat in the sun.

And attractions such as Andean flute musicians and open-air sales of Salvadoran pupusas , akin to a meat turnover, affirmed the multicultural makeup of Los Angeles' Latino population.

"It doesn't matter to me that this is a Mexican celebration, " said Antonio Sanchez, who came to Huntington Park five years ago from his native Guatemala. "It's a nice excuse to walk around outside and watch people have a good time."

The fair also recognized the city's Latino population. About 95% of Huntington Park's 56,000 residents are Latino, with 40,000 of Mexican origin, according to 1990 U.S. census data.

"It was really amazing to see so many people speaking Spanish gathered in one place," said Estella Holguin, who handles promotions for Radio Alegria, AM 930, a local radio station and one of the fair's promoters.

"It really demonstrates the strong sense of community in this part of Los Angeles; the Southeast is one of our most important markets," she said.

For Dante D'Eramo, who helped organize the fair for the Chamber of Commerce, the day was a success.

"After all the bad press the city received (about disturbances) during the World Cup celebrations, it feels great to see us pull off something really positive. There were no incidents of violence during the fair and lots of families were strolling along the boulevard just having a good time."

Perhaps no one was more in awe than 12-year-old Elizabeth Sandoval of Los Angeles, who said in Spanish: "I've only been to Mexico once and that was when I was little. Maybe I'll go again someday, but for now this will do."

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