The salsa music pulsated through Wabash Park in Ferguson yesterday as hundreds of festival-goers chowed down on tacos, tamales and empanadas. The neighborhood's annual Festival Latino, sponsored by Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, kicked off with an outdoor mass and the "Little Princess," or "Miss Chiquitita," pageant. Six-year-old Evelin Miranda, from Overland, was declared the winner over fourteen other contestants, as judged by audience applause.
The region's Latino community is thriving in this swath of north St. Louis County, stretching along St. Charles Rock Road from St. Ann to Ferguson.
Evelin, who was born in Missouri to Mexican parents, wowed the crowd with an a cappela song in Spanish and brief stand-up comedy act. (Question: What did one chicken police officer say to the other chicken police officer? Answer: "apoyo," which, aside from sounding like the word for the poultry dish, means "I need backup" in Spanish.)
Evelin was given a piggy bank with prize money, which she donated to the church. She wants to be a math teacher when she grows up, but admits: "I have to grow a little bit more first."
Jaime Torres, an organizer of the festival, says the "Miss Chiquitita" pageant is a longstanding tradition in many Latino communities and a good way to celebrate cultural roots in America.