On Sunday, Sept. 22, a festival celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day will take place at the Cherokee Capital Fairgrounds, located at 1060 Liberty Road S.W. Doors will open at 11 a.m. with a mass presented by Calhoun’s St. Clement’s Catholic Church, and the day will wrap up at around 8:30 p.m.

The San Clemente Independence Festival is being hosted by St. Clement’s as both a fundraiser and a way to celebrate Latin American culture, according to Heriberto Cortes, one of the organizers of the event.

“We are going to be celebrating the independence of Mexico,” Cortes said. “A lot of people here in America celebrate that in May, but that’s not actually when Mexican Independence Day is. It’s actually Sept. 16. This festival will be very close to what a celebration of the day would be like in Mexico.”

This is not the first year that St. Clement’s has hosted the San Celemente Independence festival. It was an annual event up until two years ago, drawing crowds as large as 1,500 people, when the church put a pause on festivities to focus its attention on other programs.

Now that it is back, Cortes says they hope to make it “even bigger and better” than before and are expecting up to 2,000 attendees.

“We are going to have live music. After mass, we will be serving traditional foods like tamales, tacos, pupusas and enchiladas. They will be the real, authentic kind, not like you can get at restaurants,” he said. “We’ll have other foods too, like corn on the cob, nachos and ice cream, made the way they are commonly done in Mexico.”

The food will be available for purchase with proceeds going toward new pews, floors and classrooms at St. Clement’s.

Other activities at the festival will include horse and pony rides, a small petting zoo, a Festival Queen competition for girls between the ages of 15 and 18, a dessert contest, and live music from bands such as local favorites Inkieta Banda Reyna, Banda la Indispensable, La Abundancia Norteña, and La Furia de Dalton.

“If anyone wants to participate in the dessert contest, the winner will receive $100 cash,” Cortes said. “It is $25 to enter, and we encourage people to bring business cards to let people know if they make cakes or desserts professionally.”

Business owners are also invited to rent vendor booths for $75, though the church asks that they not be food related.

Admission to the festival will be free until 1 p.m. Anytime after 1 p.m., admission will be $2 for attendees over the age of 12. Parking will be $5.

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