Sept. 11 2013 12:00 AM

Third annual fest honors Lansing’s Spanish language population

This weekend, Lansing will get a festive reminder that Old Town’s stretch of Grand River Avenue is also “el córazon del barrio chicano,” “the heart of the Chicano barrio.”

The Lansing for César Chávez Committee throws its biggest bash of the year, the Tejano/Latino Music Fest, in City Lot 56, the plaza in the heart of Old Town and the old barrio, now named César E. Chávez Plaza.

In its third year, the free festival will expand to two days; previously it was a single-day event. Expect a marathon of Latino and Tejano sounds, with polka, cumbia, salsa, merengue and contem porary mixes.

This year will also feature an increased number of vendors, as well as a beer tent (for a $5 cover), food booths and a variety of merchandise booths, children’s activities and community booths for nonprofits and businesses.

The music, dancing and feasting on festival weekend is a colorful blast from North Lansing’s rich Latino past. Festival organizer Lorenzo Lopez said this weekend’s festival is more than a nod to the old days. He called it “a coming together of community.”

The festival will also help the committee further its goal of erecting a gateway honoring Chávez at the entranceway to Lot 56. Most of the proceeds from the festival, Lopez said, will go toward the gateway, to recognize the “heart of the barrio.”

“Once the gateway is up, it will be the only (monument) in the Midwest to Cesar Chavez. He did a lot of work in this area, and it’s important for people in this area to recognize that work.”