NAMPA -- Saturday marked the 150th Cinco de Mayo, a holiday celebrating a Mexican military victory over the French army in 1862. The Mexican community in Idaho celebrated with festivities around the state, helping to share their ever-growing cultural presence in Idaho.
Recent census numbers show the Hispanic population has roughly doubled in the Treasure Valley from 2000 to 2010, and Hispanic community leaders say it's a trend likely to continue.
For a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Nampa, Lupe Madrigal ("La Indomable") sang traditional mariachi music. She said it's a way she shares her heritage with others.
"I came to this country when I was 17 years old, so I lived most of my life here," Madrigal said. "I really like the safety, and people. I like it, I love it here."
Madrigal and other performers said one of the best parts of the day is sharing Mexican traditions with anyone who wants to join, no matter what their descent.
"I like to see different cultures come together in a place like this," Madrigal said. "I enjoy it."
J.J. Saldaña with the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs agrees these public celebrations bring people together and help them understand different cultures.
"It's a great opportunity to kind of get to know, this is awesome," Saldaña said. "Different foods, different dances, different kinds of music. It's a great way to kind of mix things up and a learning experience as well."
As a whole, Idaho's Hispanic population is increasing.
"It's increasing and it's increasing at a very large rate," Saldaña said. "Ada County has increased by 104 percent from the last census to this census."
According to the Commission, 11 percent of Idahoans are Hispanic. Most were born in the United States and most are bilingual. Based on projections, Saldaña definitely expects to see the Hispanic population rise even more.
"I think it's going to continue to grow," he said. "Statistics show we're going to continue to grow all the way until 2050. It's going to show constant growth here."
Another change in the Hispanic population is it's getting younger. Saldaña attributes that partially to families staying here and raising children.
"I think what's happening is, before in the Hispanic community, a lot of them were migrant workers and now they're starting to set roots here, and their children are growing up and going to college and staying here," he said.
Cinco de Mayo is of course a Mexican tradition and the largest Hispanic group in our state, but there are many Hispanic cultures represented in Idaho. Saldaña said the state also has large Puerto Rican and Colombian communities.