Visitors to Sunday’s Zacatecano Fest turned Veterans Memorial Park into a large dance floor. | Below, Miguel Huerta, (right), a member of the Federation of United Clubs from Zacateca in Forth Worth, Texas, said he traveled 16 hours to get to Maywood. | Michael Romain/VFP
Tuesday, July 18, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Hundreds converged on Veterans Memorial Park in Maywood on July 16 for the annual Zacatecano Fest, a one-day event hosted by the Illinois branch of the Federation of United Clubs from Zacatecas.
The one-day fest is designed to celebrate Zacatecas, a state in Mexico. Sunday’s fest marked the third consecutive year the event has been held in Maywood.
The fest attracted people like Sarafin Gurrola Alvarado, a government official who traveled from Valparaiso, a small town in north central Zacatecas. It was his first time in Chicago.
“Chicago is incredible, it’s a very friendly place,” Alvarado (pictured right) said.
Miguel Huerta, a member of the Federation of United Clubs in Forth Worth, Texas, said that the trip to Maywood was around 16 hours.
“When other organizations have their events, we try to be part of them so we can feel like they have our friendship,” said Huerta, adding that millions of Zacatecas natives currently reside in the United States — namely in places like Chicago, California and Texas.
Jose Estrada, who works in the area of migrant outreach in the office of the governor of Zacatecas, said that events like Sunday’s fest often serve not only to entertain but to galvanize resources and support for Mexican natives who are trying to make it in the U.S., where many have migrated for a better life.
“Usually, mayors from different municipalities are here and they talk about the projects they want to do together over there,” he said. “The other day, we had this kind of event in California and there were 25 mayors there. The migrant’s office takes care of people. We have to be close to the community because there are lots of things going on.”
Maywood officials take photos with visitors for Zacatecano Fest on July 16. | Michael Romain/VFP
Herb Porter, a Hanover Park trustee, had come to the Maywood fest, in part, to see his friend, Federation member Arnulfo Flores. Hanover Park shares sister city status with Zacatecas City, the largest city and capital in the state of Zacatecas.
Numerous government officials at Sunday’s fest said that the sister city designation is more than symbolic and sometimes translates into resource-sharing.
Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who was on hand at Sunday’s fest, said that the sister city designation is “something to think about.”
Zacatecas pageant winners Nelly Rodriguez-Jauregui, Mari Carmen Galvez and Yesenia Ponce Ornelas. | Michael Romain/VFP
Flores said that, in addition to resource-sharing between municipalities, the Federation also doles out scholarships to deserving students and lends other forms of support to members of what is a growing immigrant community that is generations deep.
Pageant winner Nelly Rodriguez-Jauregui, who was in Maywood from northern California, said her parents are from Zacatecas.
Zacatecano Fest visitors Jenny Garcia, Erica Banuelos and Gloria Banuelos. | Michael Romain/VFP
She and two other young women who are either from, or have parents from, Zacatecas, took top prizes in a national competition that tests contestant’s knowledge, personality and passion for the Mexican state.
“We’re here to represent our parents and grandparents,” Rodriguez-Jauregui said. VFP