Mexican festival’s roots lie in unity, determination

May 7, 2019

SYCAMORE – Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French and Napoleon III at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. But, Jesus Romero sees a reason for the season that speaks to the people of DeKalb County in 2019.

“It was a big victory for a very outnumbered army with less weapons and ammunition,” said Romero, owner of Taxco Mexican Cuisine and organizer of Sycamore’s annual Cinco de Mayo Festival.

“But [it represents] determination and unity regardless of differences to come together. And I think we as a community, we can make a difference,” Romero said. “We support each other … We live in such a great community. DeKalb County is such a caring, lovely and philanthropic community. And that’s why we are blessed to be in this community.”

With more than $160,000 donated to local nonprofits since its 1998 debut, the Sycamore Cinco de Mayo Festival is a pillar of that philanthropic tradition. This year it’ll continue to give back, with proceeds from Sunday’s event being donated to the Kishwaukee College Foundation and other nonprofits.

The event began as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, when Romero was chosen as a captain for the Sycamore Jaycees’ team. The initial concept to “move the restaurant outside for one day” still lived on this year in the line of Taxco tents serving a selection of the restaurant’s Mexican favorites to a winding line of hungry locals in the Taxco back lot. 

But the fiesta has expanded over the years, and Sunday’s event included a climbing wall, a petting zoo, eating contests, a pair of bounce houses and booths for several local businesses. 

“We’ve been involved with the Cinco de Mayo Festival for many years, and we’re proud to sponsor with Sycamore Cinco de Mayo and Jesus Romero and support our community and all the outcomes of this event,” said Chris DeVlieger, dream manager at The Suter Co. in Sycamore.

“Our company is proud to have our employees do hands-on service throughout the weekend. And then we support through donating other items, whatever is needed for the festival … And we enjoy helping Jesus; what a wonderful individual.”

David Larks, a festival attendee for the past five years, shared a similar admiration for the festival’s founder.

“I like that it’s local. It’s for a good cause. Jesus does a good job here,” Larks said. “He’s just a good member of the community. He likes to give back.”