JOLIET – “We got rice. We got icy water. We got sweet bananas,” called out the lady at the Rancho Mateo food wagon.
She had everything but customers during three hours of rain that put a damper on Family Fiesta on Saturday afternoon. Not forever. Tomorrow would be another day, and the forecast was no rain.
Family Fiesta resumes at noon and runs until 10 p.m.on Sunday at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park, located at the corner of Jefferson and Bluff streets in Joliet.
Gov. Pat Quinn is expected at 2 p.m. Evelyn Sanquinetti, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, is scheduled to show at 4:30 p.m.
Lots of regular people would be helpful, too, said Christian Giannotti. He is a board member at the Spanish Community Center. The Joliet nonprofit counts on Family Fiesta as a big fundraiser.
“This event is the event we lean on as far as breaking even on a lot of the services we provide,” Giannotti said.
Three hours of rain during what could have been peak Fiesta time was “very, very disappointing,” Giannotti said. He looked forward to a big turnout on Sunday. “We hope there are enough people who know how long the Spanish Community Center has been in Joliet and the difference that it has made in people lives, so they will come out and give us some support.”
Besides the appearance of a couple of statewide political heavyweights, Family Fiesta will have live music starting at 3:30 p.m. until it closes at 10 p.m.
Food comes from a variety of local restaurants and traveling vendors offering a mix of Mexican, Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine. Hot dogs, too, were said to be available.
“The rain has definitely kept everybody away,” said Eddie Reyes, the cook at the El Puerto Escondido food wagon. The restaurant is located in downtown Joliet.
Business had a chance of picking up Saturday once the rain stopped at 4 p.m.
Juan Monroy was eager for someone to taste his tacos made with lamb meat.
“I hope tomorrow the weather is a little better so people can try our food, which is authentic Mexican food from my hometown, Pachuca Hidalgo,” Monroy said. His restaurant is El Borrego De Oro on Plainfield Road in Joliet.
Steve Orlando hoped for good weather Sunday, too.
Orlando of Joliet is state chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. He looks forward to introducing Sanquinetti, the candidate for lieutenant governor, to people in Joliet.
Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor, tentatively planned to come Saturday. He, too, was deterred by the rain, Orlando said.
Why should Family Fiesta be such an attraction in the governor’s race?
“Will County has been one of the fastest growing counties of the last 10 years,” Orlando said. “The fact that the Hispanic community in Joliet is as big as it is – that is something that Bruce and Evelyn want to be part of.”