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Fiestas Patrias 2012

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The Mexican Cultural Center of Northern California (MCCNC) will present “El Grito” at the Capitol West Steps on September 15.

“El Grito” (the cry for independence) marked the beginning of Mexico’s fight for independence against Spanish rule on September 16, 1810. The MCCNC is a nonprofit cultural arts, education and community service organization that brings the annual event to the Capitol West Steps. Their on-going mission has been to share and preserve the region’s unique and special Mexican heritage.

A prelude to this event also took place at the Crest Theater on Saturday, August 25 where the Reina Fiestas Patrias 2012 pageant occurred.

Crest Theater billboard announcing Fiestas Patrias

Before the pageant began, a long line formed outside the Crest Theater and many carried billboards and other home made signs with photos supporting their favorite contestant.

Parents showing their home made support signs

The pageant has been celebrated in Sacramento since 1928 and is usually held a few weeks before the Mexican Independence Day celebration in Sacramento.

The pageant also celebrated its 84th anniversary and paid tribute to the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. A period of history that spanned from 1936 to 1969 and became an economic success for Mexico’s cinema is considered the Golden Age.

Designer and judge Rory Castillo

The Fiestas Patrias pageant had 13 candidates competing for the 2012 title. Each of the candidates was sponsored by local businesses.

Once inside the theater guests were able to enjoy some delicious food and a no-host bar was also available. Dinorah Curkendall entertained visitors as she sang in the lobby before the event.

Artist known as Dinorah performs at the Crest lobby

Inside the theater seats were quickly filled as guests listened to music over the speakers. Chants arose from the theater as attendees chanted for their favorite contestant.

Lesso supporters

The candidates introduced themselves and answered questions in Spanish. Most of the commentary was in Spanish and is translated for this article.

An Aztec dance group, Kalpulli Xihuacoatl, performed on stage wearing colorful and traditional Aztec outfits. Groupo Folklórico Los Alteños and Sergio Serrano also performed live on stage.

Kalpulli Xihuacoatl
Los Alteños
Sergio Serrano

Alejandro Celorio representing the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento welcomed guests. Celorio said, “I want to recognize the effort the participants have put into the pageant and to congratulate them since they’re all already winners as they enthusiastically prepared for the past three months. The 13 candidates are now winners and they’ve also made us winners. What better way to enjoy our Fiestas Patrias and feel proud of being Mexican than to enjoy and recognize the beauty of Mexico through its women. Good Night and thank you for coming.”

Alejandro Celorio of the Consulate General of Mexico

Judges selected for the event included Victor Rodriguez Tafoya, Lupe Leyva, Rory Castillo, Gloria Gonzalez, Juan Gonzalez and Melinda Guzman.

Judges’ table

Andrea Hinojosa, Lizette Rocha, Maria Lesso, Flor Zolano, Mariza Jaimes, Lizeth Fernandez, Yvette Ramirez, Lizbeth Valdez, Diana Garcia, Viviana Gomez, Claudia Salomon, Andrea Paz and Karla Diaz introduced themselves to the audience at hand.

Andrea Hinojosa
Lizette Rocha
Maria Lesso

Candidates also shared something about themselves that included their education, current employment and future dreams.

Flor Zolano
Mariza Jaimes
Lizeth Fernandez

Several of the candidates noted that they were the first in their family to attend and graduate college. Manly of the candidates are attending Sac State, U.C. Davis and other local schools. Candidates thanked their sponsors, friends and family for their support and inspiration.

Yvette Ramirez
Lizbeth Valdez
Diana Garcia

As most pageants go some awards were given. The Miss Congeniality selection was Valdez and Miss Photogenic went to Hinojosa. Two other non traditional awards went to Ramirez who was selected as Miss Punctual and Miss Social Media went to Lesso.

Viviana Gomez
Claudia Salomon

Andrea Paz
Karla Diaz

Later on the five finalists were selected and included Lesso, Diaz, Salomon, Hinojosa and Garcia.

Vickie Gutierrez who had performed a dance earlier in the show came on stage to crown this year’s winner. Gutierrez was selected as Queen Fiestas Patrias in 2011.

Vickie Gutierrez performing
2011 Queen Fiestas Patrias Vickie Gutierrez

Gutierrez thanked parents, friends, and sponsors and talked about the great experiences she’s enjoyed this past year.

After waiting for the judges choices to be tabulated the 2012 Queen Fiestas Patrias was selected. Lesso was chosen as the new queen and the audience showed its approval by cheering and chanting for Lesso. Fans shouted, “Maria, Maria, Maria.”

2012 Reyna Fiestas Patrias, Maria Lesso with her court

“It really felt unreal. I wasn’t ready for it. I was like oh my God it’s really me. I’m so excited to represent my culture and I’m very proud of being a Mexican woman. That’s all I have to say,” said Lesso, in English, when I asked how she felt about being the new queen.

When asked about what her first role as queen of Fiestas Patrias Lesso said, “I will be at the Mexican independence day at the capitol on September 15.” Her enthusiasm, radiant smile and personality could not be contained as thanked her family and supporters.

Lesso with family and friends

This year’s event celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day will also include several of Sacramento’s food trucks serving selected items from their delicious menu. Miniburger, Wicked Wich, La Piedad, La Mex, Chando’s, Drewski, CornCake, Mama Kims, VolksWaffle, Emmas Tamales, Pizza Company and Fat Face will bring their food trucks to the event.

Several live performances are also scheduled and guests of all ages are encouraged to attend the September 15 event.

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