Shafter Cinco de Mayo Festival 2019

Grand Marshals are the 'Root' of Festival

The Shafter Cinco de Mayo Festival is the creation of Deanna Rodriguez Root and her late husband, Albert "Roy" Root. When Albert passed away, their daughter Brandi came on board to help her mother with the event.

For years, the Cinco de Mayo Festival Committee has proposed Deanna and Brandi as grand marshals for the event. But Deanna and Brandi thought that it wouldn't look right to have them lead the parade. This year, the committee didn't give them the option and named them the grand marshals for the festival.

Deanna has lived in Shafter all of her life, with her grandfather one of the founders of what is now known as "La Colonia," formerly the Mexican Colony. Deanna said that she has always loved Shafter for its small-town feel and that everyone knows everyone and cares about one another. When the festival was created, "Our mission was to bring the community together through this cultural celebration in honoring the Mexican Army's victory in 1862."

She said that the festival has been growing every year, and now draws people from all over Kern County, the Central Valley and from as far away as Arizona. "A lot of families use this time as a family reunion. They will come together and attend the festival and turn it into a big family reunion." 

The event this year is on Saturday, May 4, with the parade kicking off the festivities at 10 a.m. downtown. Activities at Mannel Park will immediately follow. There will be music, entertainment from Ballet Folklorico, vendors with a variety of foods and drinks, as well as plenty of games and activities for the children. There will also be dozens of cars on display at a car show on the park grounds.

Rodriguez-Root said that the event wouldn't be possible without the outstanding support they get from the local businesses in town and the wonderful group of volunteers that they have. "We have people who have been volunteering year after year, doing whatever they can to help out," she said. 

Albert and Deanna were a perfect dynamic duo, Deanna said, each of them complimenting the other. "My husband, who was not Hispanic, loved learning about the Mexican culture. We would go on a trip to Mexico, and I would serve as the translator and he would actually know more about the places we visited than I did through his research, so he would be the tour guide."

Deanna and Brandi will have a very busy day when the festival is under way, doing double duty as grand marshals in the parade, as well as keeping an eye on the events at the park. "We usually don't get much sleep the night before, getting everything ready at the park. Then we will be busy on Saturday, riding in the parade and overseeing the other festivities. It will be a long day, but it will be a lot of fun."

They also were honored recently, along with the rest of the Cinco de Mayo Committee, by the Kern Council of Government. They won the Community Involvement Award at the annual Regional Banquet held at the Seven Oaks Country Club in Bakersfield.

Deanna said that the festival is one of the biggest in the county and hopes that it will keep growing and thriving. "We have a great group of people who care about the festival and the community, so we are hopeful that the tradition will continue for many years to come."

Article courtesy of The Shafter Press