Food volunteers are already preparing for the thousands that will come to support and enjoy homemade tamales and other great foods during the Fiesta Topeka.

“I am working hard to listen and fight for folks all across the city”

Fiesta Topeka may have a new name and logo but it comes with 90 years of heart, spirit and history. Organizers are already planning and working on making the 90th anniversary celebration a success by involving people from both Kansas and Missouri.

Rebranding itself as Fiesta Topeka, the celebration, now in its 90th year, takes place in July and will feature Mexican culture, food, dance and live music. Deborah Ortega, chairwoman of the Fiesta Topeka is looking forward to seeing people come out and supporting the fiesta as in years past.

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It’s the month of March and most of us are thinking spring, time to get outside and enjoy the weather and maybe start working in the yard or planning a garden. However, in Topeka Kansas its time to plan for the annual Fiesta Mexicana, this year its starting with a new name, it will still offer the same fun that attendees have enjoyed for generation.

Rebranding itself as Fiesta Topeka, the celebration, now in its 90th year, takes place in July and will feature Mexican culture, food, dance and live music. Deborah Ortega, chairwoman of the event, addressed a crowd of supporters and volunteers last week as the rebranding was unveiled, complete with a new logo. Proceeds will be donated to Holy Family Catholic School. The first Fiesta was a one-day event held on August 17, 1933. It was organized by Father Augustine Cuartero and the parishioners, with the special assistance of Mrs. Genevieve McDade, a local philanthropist from Assumption Parish who was very active in helping the Mexican community and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, during the depression years.

The initial vision of Father Augustin Cuartero, encompassed not only the sharing of our Mexican culture, but its primary purpose, which remains unchanged, is to support the parish’s school and education of the children. In 1921, a modest school was built and by 1953, funds from Fiestas were used to build a more expansive school to house increasing student enrollment. That school building still stands today and continues to be used for the education of our children and parish ministries.

In 1939, was the first Queen’s contest featuring Queen Maria Mendoza Granado and Princesses Esther Tostado Sandiffer and Mary Hernandez Chavez. From 1939 until 1997 we held contests for a Queen until 1998 when the campaign became a Royalty Campaign for young ladies and men. Our first King, Simon Martinez was crowned in 1998. There were a few years where we were unable to hold a Fiesta either because of the depression, war or most recently, the pandemic.

In 2006, Our Lady of Guadalupe school merged with our neighboring school, Sacred Heart School to became Holy Family School. “We are pleased to bring renewed vision and vigor to the Topeka Fiesta 90th anniversary.”

"We’re so excited to showcase the many new and exciting partnerships and attractions, yet maintain all that people love about our Fiesta Topeka,” Ortega said. “There’s something for all ages to enjoy.”

Among the national bands performing at Fiesta Topeka include some of San Antonio, Texas top performing groups including two-time Latin Grammy Winner Michael Salgado, Mariachi Azteca de America and LA 45, the next generation of Chicano music.

“Every July we are thrilled because through our Fiesta Topeka we get the opportunity to share with so many people our heritage, our food, our dances, our music. It is just a great time to enjoy as a family,” remarked Parish Pastor Fr. Daniel Coronado, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. “As we get set to celebrate our 90th year, we really would like to thank all our partners and sponsors for their support to Fiesta Topeka!”

Pastor Father Daniel Coronado gave a short history of the church, while Travis Lamb, principal of Holy Family, thanked sponsors and volunteers for rallying to help support the school and its operations.

“The financial support we receive allows us to offer enrichment opportunities for our students and their families,” Lamb said.

Topeka Mayor Michael Padilla called the fiesta “the best part of my life,” adding that he has volunteered with the event since he was younger.

“Growing up, seeds were planted in us. We grew up giving,” Padilla said. “We would go to retirement homes, we would pick up trash, and those kind of ethics were instilled in us. … Our ancestors are really proud of us right now.” Sarah Ruiz Chavez, festival co-chair and co-founder of Ingenuity with her husband David, referenced Oakland, Topeka’s historic Mexican-American neighborhood, which plays a big part in the festival each year.

“We are weaving together this vibrant fabric we are calling our Oakland, our Topeka,” Chavez said. “What a blessing. What fortune, to come full circle, to want to give and make an impact. My husband David is also an entrepreneur. We come from families of entrepreneurs. As a small business owner, we wanted to be a part of this.”

Padilla praised the volunteers who give their time to make each festival a success.

“People have been working at the fiesta for decades. We have to continue that culture and that involvement,” he told Kansas City Hispanic News at the press conference. “This is the year it seems like everybody is popping out, because they were tired of being locked down (due to COVID) and they want to continue the tradition.”

Said Ortega: “Many people here are third- and fourth-generation members of this parish. Some have been volunteering for 70 years and are still volunteering today.”

The fiesta continues to bring culture to life not just for Topeka’s Latinos, but for everyone wanting to learn something new, Padilla added.

“Our experience with the fiesta is, this is the most culturally mixed event the city has,” Padilla said. “You don’t have to be Hispanic or Mexican. You can just come down to have a good time, eat good food, experience our culture, our dress. This is for all the community.”

On a more personal level, Padilla said, the event “makes me feel really grounded to my culture.”

“Being at the fiesta reminds me this is who I am and where I came from,” he said.


8 Mini-Jamaica (Mini Fiesta) – The official Fiesta Topeka kick-off event held downtown at Evergy Plaza. The Mini-Jamaica features live musical performances, a taste of the Fiesta’s famous traditional Mexican food, as well as various food truck cuisines, treats, and cool beverages.

July 8, 5K Run/Walk – All age groups and skill levels are invited to participate in the friendly fun as neighbors cheer runners on!

July15, Parade – Downtown Topeka comes alive with numerous creative and colorful displays of cars, bikes, floats, and spectacular characters.

July 15, Coronation Ball – A cherished tradition of royalty where the efforts in fundraising performance determines which young man and young lady is crowned for a year-long reign as the Fiesta King and Queen.

July18-22 Fiesta Topeka Festival – Shining jewel of summertime fun, and a five-day celebration of Mexican culture and cuisine, music, a full carnival experience and attractions galore.

July18-22 Art Show – Regional and local artists showcase and sell their art. See unique original art designs.

July 21 Golf Tournament – The annual tournament takes place at Cypress Ridge Golf Course. Prizes and awards in addition 
to beverages and meals are provided for participants. 

July 22 Fiesta Cornhole Tournament - A new tradition of Fiesta-friendly competition begins. 

July 29 - 30 Pickleball Tournament – A new activity sure to become a treasured tradition.

For updates of Fiesta Topeka schedule of events, visit