Hungry visitors to the ninth annual St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church's Mexican fiesta Saturday evening had to stand in long lines for a taste of authentic Mexican food, but no one seemed to mind.
Loretta Chavez, food chairman, said festival organizers prepared about 1,500 of each item on the menu, including burritos, tacos, tostados, enchiladas and tamales. They also served Mexican rice.
Chavez said people would continue to flock to the food lines until nothing remained to eat.
"We always run out," she said. "We get a good crowd all the time. It's packed from five on until midnight."
Greg Zamarripa waited only 15 minutes for a plateful of Mexican delicacies.
"It's nice to get out and get something different," he said, adding that he wasn't fond of Mexican fast food. "This is a lot better. It's more authentic."
IN ADDITION to the traditional dishes, the Altar Society sold hot dogs, nachos, desserts, and soft drinks, and the Knights of Columbus provided beer.
The event was held on the church grounds, 1208 Ky., and offered festival goers more than just food. Children bounced around in the inflated "Moonwalk" and scurried to buy tickets for the various games and contests, such as a dart throw, Frisbee toss, basketball toss and fishpond.
Eleven-year-old Daniel Alvarez won two posters at a ring toss and said that was his favorite game at the festival.
"I came to the festival last year, and it was a lot of fun," he said. "It's got some good food and a lot of fun games. It's a good fund-raiser."
TRADITIONAL Mexican dance groups from Lawrence and Kansas City performed in the early evening and the band, "Fuerza Chicana," from Emporia, was scheduled to play from 8 p.m. until midnight.
Ginger Heere's daughters, 5-year-old Lisa and 7-year-old Alexis, have performed with the traditional dance group for several years.
"I think this year is the best Mexican fiesta they've had," she said. "The crowd is enjoying it and the weather is just a bit cooler. It's kind of a community thing that people like to come out and support a nice evening out without spending a lot of money."
Buddy Langford, an organizer of the festival, said the event attracts a bigger crowd every year.
"It's had tremendous growth," he said. "It's the kind of event in Lawrence that people look forward to. We hope it shows a positive light on the St. John's parish and the Mexican community in general."
Langford said the money raised at the festival will go into the church's general fund.