Kilcawley Center hosts Cinco de Mayo fiesta

The Youngstown State University Latino Student Organization’s Battle of Puebla Cinco de Mayo — scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday in Kilcawley Center’s Ohio Room — will be filled with food, music, dance and presentations.

The event will last until 1 p.m.

William Blake, director of student diversity programs, said this is the eighth year the event has taken place at YSU.

“It is always well attended,” Blake said. “The challenge is competing for space; it’s hard to find a big enough space at this time of year.”

This will be the sixth year that the event has been held in Kilcawley Center, and attendance is expected to reach last year’s record of 140 participants.

Attendees can expect to enjoy authentic Mexican food.

“Sodexo dining services bases their menu on selections made by the [Youngstown] Mexican Club, and there is a taste test that takes place prior to the event to ensure the food is 100 percent authentic,” Blake said.

The fiesta will also feature a variety of entertainment.

Mexican mariachi singer Miguel Angel will perform a musical selection. Katie Hankins, a member of YSU’s Spanish club, will also perform.

The program will include a dance performed by Dacmara Delgado and Anita Gomez of the YSU Latino Student Organization.

A Canfield High School student will give a presentation that pays tribute to Cinco de Mayo, while Rocio Rosales, an assistant professor of psychology, will give a presentation about the history of Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla.

Blake said the goal of hosting this event is to celebrate the various cultures and languages spoken at YSU. An increasing number of students and members of the community speak Spanish as their predominant language.

According to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau reports, Youngstown’s Hispanic population is three times more concentrated than the state average. More than 9 percent of Youngstown’s 66,982 residents are Hispanic or Latino.

The Hispanic community is also a part of the YSU family.

According to the YSU preliminary enrollment summary, 376 students have a Hispanic background.

That number is up from 356 last year and 290 in 2010.

“It is important for us to celebrate diversity on this campus — period,” Blake said. “Cinco de Mayo seems to have many people who desire the program, giving it great success, which is why the event continues to be held and will continue to be held in the future.”