Patrons filled Bicentennial Park over the weekend for Baytown’s very popular Grito Fest — a fun-filled celebration that highlights Hispanic heritage.
The Baytown Parks and Recreation Department said there were between 5,000 and 6,000 visitors at the 14th Annual Grito Fest.
Those interested in competition took part in a jalapeno-eating contest, salsa contest, accordion contest and the centerpiece of the event, the grito yell.
Taking first place in the grito contest was Jonathan Esparza, in the jalapeno contest was Diego Loredo and in the accordion contest, Brandon Ybarra was the winner.
Winning top awards in the red salsa contest was Iguana Joe’s and in the green salsa contest was La Original Taqueria. Jeff Muller won the homemade salsa contest. Each received plaques.
“The event is always a good time, the entertainment was excellent and well received, its always cool to hear people singing the songs,” Parks and Recreation Director Scott Johnson said. “The Ballet Folklorico dancers were fun. The contestants for the grito and jalapeno competition were close. I’m sure all 12 or the jalapeno competitors are still reliving the contest.”
The popular Grito Fest got its beginning when the parks department tried to develop a summer concert series. After several festival attempts drew good performances but disappointing crowds, the department found more success with offering concerts on July 3 and 4 along with the late-summer Grito Fest.
It is now one of Baytown Parks and Recreation’s most popular events.
“We are thrilled that attendance surpassed expatiations for the 2019 Grito Fest, and will continue to work diligently to host an even better program next year on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020,” Clifford Hatch, Baytown recreational superintendent, said.
The name “Grito” comes from a traditional Mexican celebratory “grito” yell made famous during the Mexican War of Independence from Spain when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a parish priest of Dolores, uttered in on Sept. 16, 1810.