MILWAUKEE — Once the gates at Henry Maier Festival Park opened Friday at noon the music, dancing, and cooking started right away.
"My favorite part definitely the music. The food is really good but the music is probably what gives a good kick," Giobanni Rangel, who made the trip from Iowa, said.
This year Julio Maldonado wanted to share food from his restaurant Snifters Tapas and Spirits with the festival crowd. Once a board member for the festival, Maldonado said he has been coming to Mexican Fiesta for years.
"Connecting with people, celebrating our culture, tasting everyone’s different food ethnic foods from different parts of Mexico also the tequila tasting, the cultural village," Maldonado said when asked what made it great.
New this year are smoke-free stage areas. Smoking and vaping are banned. Tobacco-free advocates said Mexican Fiesta is the first festival to expand smoke-free areas to this extent.
"They really want to protect the health of their patrons. They wanna promote this as a family event so it’s good," Anneka Mohr with the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance said.
With perfect weather on the horizon this weekend, visitors said they were just soaking it in.
"I am absolutely loving it. I’m excited for the festival and all the music and the entertainment that they’ve got going on down here. I’m looking forward to coming back tonight actually," Christopher Tsukichi who was at the festival for lunch said.
Mexican Fiesta lasts through Sunday.