SAFFORD — From food to art, Graham County’s Hispanic heritage was on full display Saturday.
The fifth annual Un Gran Exito Fiesta took place at its new home, the Ag Building at Graham County Fairgrounds, due to the growing popularity of the event.
“It’s been a lot of hard work but enjoyable,” said co-organizer Lupe Munoz. “The fruits of labor are here in the music, in the people. You see the people who come in from different places and the families that come with the mariachis, that’s a big recognition for them.”
Attendees enjoyed the music of Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, Los Changuitos Feos de Tucson and Mariachi Sonido de Mexico. Also entertaining the crowd was Compania de Danza Folklorica Arizona.
There were numerous food vendors serving traditional Hispanic fare, as well as raffles and auctions to take home prizes. Admission and raffle/auction revenue is put back into the community via scholarships awarded by the organizers, the nonprofit Eastern Arizona Hispanic Heritage Corporation.
Jordan Martinez, this year’s scholarship recipient, said the award was vital in her achieving her goals.
“It will allow me to finish my associate’s degree at EAC and then pursue my career at NAU,” Martinez said, adding that she plans to major in communications/design with a minor in photography. “My first day at EAC, I felt welcomed into a family I didn’t know.”
Michael Peterson, presiding judge of Graham County Superior Court, spoke about the court’s effort to combat substance abuse through its Drug Court, and Eastern Arizona Hispanic Heritage Corporation honored its family of the year, the Valenzuela Family, and teacher of the year, Safford’s BB Andrews.
This was the second event of the year for Eastern Arizona Hispanic Heritage Corporation, having put on the inaugural Greenlee County Un Gran Exito Fiesta in Morenci in September.
“This has been a good event and there’s no way to compare the two, because they’re both great,” said co-organizer Michael Andazola. “In all cases, we need to remember that it’s the people; it’s the people who make this great.”