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Black House to get Latino feel with festival
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Local history meets Latino culture and heritage this weekend with a celebration of Cinco de Mayo at The Black House, one of the oldest remaining residences in McMinnville.
Latino Kermes Fest will be held May 3-5. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 12-7 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $2.50 for adults, $1.50 for children, and free for children 6 and under. Tours of The Black House will be discounted to $3, with 6 years and under free.
Black House representative Jeanette Lowery says holding the event at a historic home in Warren County incorporates Warren County history and Latino culture.
“To my knowledge, this will be the first event such as this in Warren County,” Lowery said. “We hope everyone comes out and enjoys themselves, so we can make it an annual event.”
Music, dancing, children’s games and assorted ethnic foods will be available, including posole, menudo, tamales, tacos, burritos, raspados, paletas mexicanas, chicharrones cueritos, hot dogs, popcorn, etc.
Lowery is coordinating the event with Brenda Mercado, who lived in Chicago and arranged a Cinco de Mayo celebration there before moving to Warren County.
“I think this will work out well here,” said Mercado. “A lot of the Hispanic community likes the idea, but some of them don’t believe anyone would do something like this here.”
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867) on May 5. Six years after the victory, thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, France withdrew.
In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Traditions include parades, mariachi music performances, and street festivals.
The Black House was built in 1825 by Jesse Coffee and is situated on the southeast corner of Main and High streets in downtown McMinnville. Coffee moved his family to Viola the next year.
Subsequently, the home was used by Revolutionary War solider Lt. James Sheppard, Samuel Laughlin (a close friend of President James K. Polk), and Judith Harrison. Mrs. Harrison planted the large magnolias in the front yard and helped introduce horticulture to McMinnville.
A Confederate surgeon, Thomas Black (1837-1904), purchased the home in the days after the Civil War and maintained his clinic and office there. His granddaughter, Jean Leonard, deeded the house and contents to the Eagle Fund for restoration in the 1980s.
Named after the surgeon, The Black House is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes many period furnishings throughout the home.
“No alcohol or smoking will be allowed,” said Lowery. “This is a family friendly event. We want everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves.”
Public tours and events are offered at The Black House throughout the year to fund maintenance and continued restoration. Proceeds from Latino Kermes Fest will go into the fund.