Cinco de Mayo celebration off to a soggy start

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DENVER -- Soggy conditions put a big damper on the 29th annual Cinco de Mayo festival at Civic Center Park in downtown Denver on Saturday.

The festival usually brings in about 400,000 visitors throughout the weekend, but it saw only a fraction of that on Saturday.

“It’s been a big bummer, the weather today,” event organizer Andrea Barela said. “It’s part of the reason why we have the event for two days.”

Two stages of live music, a parade, a children’s carnival and plenty of food and drink braved the weather, but not many visitors did.

The festival is put together by the nonprofit organization NEWSED, which focuses on Development in Disadvantaged Communities, and this weekend’s celebration is usually its biggest annual fundraiser.

“It hurts when you don’t have a good year,” Barela said. “It’s a big piece of our pie. It’s not the whole pie, but it’s a significant piece.”

The festival paid thousands of dollars for headliner bands to perform on stage. The bands still performed, but the usual big crowds were not there.

The rain also washed out the hopes of many vendors, including Joe Abeyta and his 5280 Gourmet stand that has been at the festival for years.

“It’s usually pretty crowded,” he said. “Some shows you hit a home run and some shows you just take a few swings.”

Event organizers are hoping for a nicer conditions and a better crowd Sunday.

The festival continues Sunday with a special Mother’s Day Mass starting at 10 a.m. followed by mariachi bands throughout the rest of the day.