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Weekend culture celebrations set

INDEPENDENCE -- The challenges that leap year has presented for event planning in 2012 -- Fourth of July anyone? -- will work out in partygoers' favor this weekend.

August 28, 2012

INDEPENDENCE -- The challenges that leap year has presented for event planning in 2012 -- Fourth of July anyone? -- will work out in partygoers' favor this weekend.

The River's Edge Summer Series is presenting Fiesta Mexicana on Friday. It will be followed up the annual community-planned Independence Mexican Fiesta on Saturday.

The events are being promoted as a two-day affair, said Economic Development Director Shawn Irvine.

"If it works out, we might try it again next year," Irvine said.

Friday's celebration will include classic and contemporary Latin dance music by El Grupo Rodeo, a Tejano band from Salem and Woodburn, as well as an amphitheater-wide beer garden and a mix of food vendors.

Saturday's event will feature a lineup of Latino bands. Both days are free and open to the public.

The Mexican Fiesta is coordinated by I-M (Independence-Monmouth) Community, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote cultural diversity and acts as an informational resource on different state services available to residents.

It will start on Saturday with a blessing by the All Nations Tribe, a local Native American group, followed by an open talent exhibition and an exhibition by Ballet Folklorico Talanese, a traditional dance company from Salem.

Musical performances ranging from Ranchero to folk to Latin pop will happen from 2:30 to 10 p.m. on the main stage. There will also be a dozen food, craft and information booths in the amphitheater colonnade.

The Mexican Fiesta started almost 20 years ago as a community-run celebration at a local church. Elena Pena, an I-M member, has helped with the planning from the beginning.

"We want to bridge the different communities in Independence by sharing our culture," Pena said.

Sponsorship has grown, with the city of Independence, Western Oregon University, La Campeona KWIP-AM 880 radio and Monmouth-Independence Network (MINET) all helping defray costs. I-M also received a grant in June from the Polk County Cultural Coalition.

The cooperation is benefiting both events, Pena said. By working under the River's Edge umbrella this year, I-M will have its amphitheater and stage rental covered and promoted on Friday night.

Mexican Fiesta planners, meanwhile, has been advertising the two celebrations over the radio.

"In the past, the Mexican Fiesta has been tailored toward our Hispanic population, which is great," said Alex Trevino, River's Edge director. "But we want to have a melting pot, so we'll get our normal crowd on Friday and invite them to return on Saturday ... we think it's going to be pretty popular."

Check Them Out

* Fiesta Mexicana, part of the River's Edge Summer Series, will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Riverview Park Amphitheater on Friday.

* Independence Mexican Fiesta will take place from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday. The event will be alcohol free. Those interested in setting up a booth or who want more information can contact Elena Pena at 503-838-3518.

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