A dancer performs on Fourth Street at the 2016 Mexican Independence Day in downtown Columbus. Submitted

A live mariachi band, food for purchase and children’s activities will bring the free Mexican Independence Day celebration to life from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday along Fourth Street in downtown Columbus.

Folkloric dancing, crafts and education also will be a part of the festivities.

Organizer Luz Elena Michel, Latino education and outreach program manager for the Community Education Coalition, and a native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, acknowledged that it’s challenging to pick a favorite part of the third annual gathering.

But the mariachi band, scheduled to play from 6 p.m. to about 8 p.m., not counting a break, would rank highly, she said.

The local Latino Education Group of the Community Education Coalition and Su Casa Columbus have organized the event that drew about 200 people last year.

Mexico Independence Day dates to Sept. 16, 1810, when Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla urged Mexicans to rise up against the colonial government of Spain.

Some people mistakenly believe that May 5, Cinco de Mayo, is Mexico’s Independence Day. However, Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory against French forces in 1862.

The education group decided in 2015 to create the event to share Mexican traditions with the community and to increase awareness of and appreciation for the Latino culture, Michel said.

Michel said the historical element also is important for many.

“It’s a good opportunity for people, including my own son, Eduardo (born in the United States), to learn about our heritage and history,” Michel said.

Support from The Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County makes the event possible.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.