Pictured: With her mind on hungry bellies and happy faces, Maria Villarreal spent most of the afternoon giving the people of Alice what they want, hot, quick food with Hispanic flair. MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Annual downtown festival gave Aliceans a taste of culture

Hispanic Heritage Festival features lots of good eats

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Aliceans got a taste, literally, of what it means to be Hispanic during this weekend's Hispanic Heritage festival.

It was two warm days of food, entertainment and education, all focused on what it means to be Hispanic, the culture, the history, the tripas.

Festival visitors caught a whiff of what was cooking long before they saw the large crowds.

Several food vendors lined the streets, selling signature Hispanic cultural dishes such as fajitas, mollejas, carne guisada, pollo and of course, tripas.

Maria Villarreal prides herself on her restaurant's tripas.

La Mexicana was at the festival bright and early, starting up the large pit, as the burning mesquite flavored smoke permeate the meat.

"We have chicken gorditas, fajitas, sausage on a stick, and whatever else you want," Villarreal said.

Like a master poker player, Villarreal keeps her cards close to the vest, and refused to reveal the secret to her tripas.

"Yes there is a secret….pero I can't tell you," Villarreal said.

La Mexicana is doing well, and Villarreal said she is proud of her Hispanic heritage, and proud to be able to serve the public in this way during the festival.

Across the park, off of Main Street, Delma Longoria of Delma's Dazzlin Jewelry prepared her table for the influx of visitors to the Heritage festival.

Longoria is from Kingsville, but for the last two years, has made it a point to come to the Alice festival because of the way the community rallies together.

"You can tell the community really supports the festival," Longoria said. "Business is always good here, and the music is fantastic."

Longoria said the big seller is the rhinestone bracelet, along with matching earrings.

She said she enjoys seeing the people come out to celebrate their heritage. She only travels to nine shows a year, and for her Alice is at the top of the list.

"The Alice community, the way they come together," Longoria said in-between the songs coming from the stage.

"It's not just adults, the kids are there too. It's a family thing. I mean, I'm working here, and I'm still having fun."