If you walked into the basement of St. John the Evangelist Church today, the aroma would take you south of the border.
Volunteers were hurriedly getting ready for the annual St. John's Mexican Fiesta, which will be held from 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday at the church, 1208 Ky.
"They were cooking down there this morning, and the food smells great," said Mary Winter, publicity chair for the annual church fund-raising event.
The fiesta will feature authentic Mexican food, entertainment and children's games, Winter said.
John Chavez, who is involved in planning the fiesta, said preparation work for the fiesta had been going on for several weeks. He said that 1,500 of each of the food items -- tacos, tamales, tostadas and burritos -- had been prepared.
And volunteers are being sought to help work the children's activities.
Buddy Langford, who chairs the event, said this morning that not as many people signed up to volunteer, so there was much left to be done this week.
"If anybody out there wants to volunteer, they can contact the church office," he said.
The food will be served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and children's activities, which include a moon walk, a basketball toss, darts, face painting and fish pond, will be from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
A Lawrence dance group, "Los Domingos," will perform traditional dances at the fiesta. "They're busy," Winter said. "Dancers are out practicing every night."
And a Topeka dance band, Paradise, will play dance music from 8 p.m. to midnight, he said.
"We'll have well over 3,000 people throughout the night," Langford said. "We can have as many as 4,000, the way the crowds run."
About 60 Mexican American families int he parish organized the fiesta to raise funds and to have some fun.
The community was established during the 1920s by Mexican railroad workers who laid track from Mexico and decided to settle here, said Chavez, whose father came from central Mexico.