After years of toasting with margaritas in early May, folks tend to know that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that literally translates as May 5. Celebrated in the U. S. and in the Mexican state of Puebla, it is a day of ethnic pride. What some folks don’t know is that it isn’t Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated later in the year in mid-September. Instead, Cinco de Mayo marks a battle the Mexican army won in Puebla against the French, May 5, 1862. Anyone can join in the celebration, so check out these events. Similar to St. Patrick’s Day they spread across a couple of weekends. One event, that of Little Village, has even been moved to early June.

Taste Of Lakeshore
College of Lake County Lakeshore Campus Courtyard
33 N. Genesee St.
Waukegan, IL 60085
(847) 543-2191 (Special Projects Reception, Alice Howell)
Date: May 5, 2015 from noon to 2 p.m.

Food, folkloric dancing and fun is all part of the Lakeshore Campus Student Association’s Cinco de Mayo celebration in downtown Waukegan. Held outside the College of Lake County’s eastern campus on Genesee Street, the festival features dancing by Abbott Middle School students, a mariachi band, Cinco de Mayo stories by CLC students and music by DJ David Olivares. Waukegan holds a parade in September for Mexican Independence Day.

Taste Of Mexico
3000 W. Twenty-Six St. at Sacramento Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 521-5387
Date: June 5 through 7, 2015, Fri. from 5 to 10:30 p.m., Sat. and Sun. from noon to 10:30 p.m.

Little Village, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, has traditionally celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a parade, food and costumed dancers in early May. The bad news is that after April’s rain and chilly weather extended into May the past few years, organizers decided to move the festivities a month to early June and do the parade just in conjunction with Mexico’s Independence Day in September. The good news is that the revised, later festival will be tasty and fun, according to the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. Look for cooking demonstrations, Restaurant Row and entertainment stages.

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Cinco De Mayo
1341 Butterfield Road
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 852-2330
Date: May 1 through 5, 2015

Barbakoa chef Dudley Nieto knows about Puebla and its cuisine. He’s from there. The restaurant stretches its celebration across five days with a Prix Fixe menu, pitchers of Margaritas (even though it doesn’t usually serve its hand-crafted drink by the pitcher), and will have special entertainment. May 2 features music and dancing from 6 to 10 p.m. and May 5 will have a pig roast and music from 6 to 9 p.m.

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Cinco De Miler
Soldier Field
1410 Museum Campus Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 235-7000 (Soldier Field number)

Date: Month May 9, 2015 at 9 a.m.

A popular annual race that attracts about 4000 runners and friends, Cinco de Miler is short at five miles and festive. Lots of runners don Mexican-style sombreros and other such accessories. Because it is popular, race organizers (Ramracing) suggest arriving at 7:30 a.m. Most runners will have registered by April 19 before the price goes up to $49. Non-racers go to watch and snap photos. The route goes along Lake Shore Drive south of Soldier Field and returns along the lake. The race ends with a beer-garden fiesta.

Cinco De Mayo
La Casa de Isaac & Moishe
2014 First St.
Highland Park, IL 60035
(847) 433-7400

Date: May 2 through 5, 2015

The colorful and atmospheric La Casa de Isacc & Moishe is a fun place to go for Cinco de Mayo. It also has really good Mexican food. For Cinco de Mayo it will carry its usual popular dishes, but also feature a traditional Puebla dish of roasted pepper stuffed with duck. In addition, a trio will entertain with traditional Mexican music. The best option is to call for reservations and hours.

Related: Best Ways To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month In Chicago

Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on