St. John’s community prepares for this weekend’s Mexican fiesta

If you’re going to the fiesta

• Open Friday and Saturday, from 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., in the parking lot at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1234 Ky.

• Event is free and open to the public.

• Proceeds from the fiesta go to St. John’s Spanish language class and local college scholarships.

• An estimated 16,000 people attend the event every year.

• For more information, call 843-0109 or visit

The annual St. John’s Mexican Fiesta: a Lawrence staple for nearly three decades celebrating the local Mexican community. As usual, the two-day event, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, brings an estimated 16,000 visitors who play games and dance the night away.

But the big draw?

“The food, it’s all authentic,” said Linda Jaimez, who’s been volunteering at the event since its start in 1981.

Jaimez spent Thursday morning prepping ingredients for enchiladas, burritos and much-anticipated tamales, and said the fiesta’s other big draw is family.

“I’m related to everyone here,” she said, as her daughter and other relatives worked in the basement of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.

The fiesta chair, Frank Lemus, said planning for the event goes on all year, and hundreds in the community lend a hand.

Proceeds from the fiesta, which Lemus said range from $25,000 to $45,000 every year, go back to St. John’s and the Spanish language class, as well as funding college scholarships for local students.

Lemus has chaired the fiesta for the past six years, and said the reason the event is always a big hit is pretty simple.

“A lot of fun. … It’s good food, it’s good music,” he said.

Lemus spends a lot of time on the fiesta, but says there’s always that moment when he realizes it was all worth it.

“By eight o’clock Saturday night is when I kind of relax and look around and realize that is was a really good time,” he said.