Get a Head Start on Cinco de Mayo. It’s Fiesta on the St. Pete Pier!

Get a Head Start on Cinco de Mayo. It’s Fiesta on the St. Pete Pier!

Think of the inaugural Fiesta on the St. Pete Pier as a pre-Cinco de Mayo party, celebrating Mexican food, drink, music and culture — cinco days before Cinco de Mayo!

On Saturday, April 30, from 1 to 9 p.m., Spa Beach Park on the St. Pete Pier will come alive with the sounds of live music, the sights of traditional Mexican dress and imagery, and the tastes of tacos, margaritas, cervezas and more.

Who knows? Fiesta on the Pier might even get a little loco.

Spa Beach Park is a large expanse of grass that juts northward from the Pier structure, bordered by the St. Pete Yacht Basin to the west and the white sands of Spa Beach and Tampa Bay to the east. Aside from Mexico itself, there’s no better place for a Fiesta!

The event’s authentic Mexican entertainment comes courtesy of Mariachi Garibaldi, who play the traditional acoustic style founded some 200 years ago in west-central Mexico. The band features eight to 12 members playing guitars of varying sizes, violins and trumpets. Beautiful vocals, too. The ensemble, which has been around since 1994, performs while wearing spangled suits and some very impressive sombreros.

The Fiesta’s other act, Sol Caribe, from Tampa, is sure to get the dance party started. The large band per forms a broader scope of Latin music, including salsa, merengue, cambia, bachata and other styles.

a bottle of Jarritos and a taco
Photo by Jarritos Mexican Soda on Unsplash

An array of food and drink vendors will populate the park. St. Pete Concessions will offer the classics – quesadillas, burritos, jarritos and more – but you won’t want to miss the offerings from Main Street Empanadas, El Cociloco, Big Red BBQ, Zukku, and La Strada.

To wash it all down, a wide variety of flavored margaritas will be on hand, along with plenty of Corona, Modelo and Corona Hard Seltzer. Can’t decide? Try the ultimate Mexican concoction: The CoronaRita — defined as “an overturned Corona beer draining into a margarita.” Enjoy!

Now that we have most of the Fiesta basics covered, let’s have a look at Cinco de Mayo itself. Up for a little history lesson? The holiday has become an annual rite throughout the U.S., either for people who wish to celebrate our neighbor country to the South, or folks just looking for an excuse to party.

Truth be told, Cinco de Mayo isn’t that big a deal in its homeland. History.com even described it as “a relatively minor holiday in Mexico.” That’s because contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, which is Sept. 16. Neither is it associated with Day of the Dead (Nov. 1-2). Cinco de Mayo commemorates a single battle, The Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, when a small, ill-equipped Mexican army beat back a larger and better armed French force intent on seizing the city of Puebla.

The following year, the first Cinco de Mayo was celebrated in Southern California to show solidarity with Mexico against French rule. By the 1930s, Cinco de Mayo had established itself as a way for Mexican-Americans to honor their culture and identity. Starting in the 1980s, the holiday steadily grew among the non-Mexican population and into cities and towns throughout the country.

Which brings us back to Fiesta on the Pier. Trust us, señor or señorita: You don’t want to miss it. Join us for an early Cinco de Mayo celebration you’ll never forget — sombrero optional.

The Pier is offering two ways to Fiesta: a general admission ticket ($10 early bird, $15 advance, $20 at the gate); and a VIP Experience that includes a collectible plastic margarita glass, access to a shaded VIP area with lounge seating, four drink tickets and light snacks. $55 early bird, $65 advance, $75 at the gate. Click here to purchase either option in advance.

Salud!