News, features, and commentary from the biggest city in the Americas, Mexico City.

DF Government Ruins Popular ‘Feria de las Culturas Amigas’

Good luck navigating this crowd!

Good luck navigating through these crowds! (Photo: Darren Popik)

It’s time once again for what used to be one of the most fun events in Mexico City — the Feria de las Culturas Amigas.

The key phrase here is “used to be”.

This now annual event gathers dozens of countries together to show off … well, cultural stuff. Specifically, it means a lot of food, music, and various products for sale.

Concrete everywhere you look, and not a tree in sight. (Photo: Darren Popik)

Concrete everywhere you look, and no shade in sight. (Photo: Darren Popik)

But while the fair has taken place on the Paseo de la Reforma since its inception, this year, the Mexico City government has made the brilliant decision to move things to the Zócalo.

A walk through on Day One shows just how wrong this decision was.

On the modern Reforma, you have a nice place to go for a walk, there are plenty of places to sit down and enjoy your food and drink, and there’s lots of shade, thanks to all the trees on the avenue.

If you get annoyed at the crowds, go buy some Ron Abuelo from the Panamanian tent, and have a drink. (Photo: Darren Popik)

When you get fed up with the crowds, we recommend that you go buy some Ron Abuelo from the Panamanian tent, and have a drink. (Photo: Darren Popik)

The Zócalo, conversely, offers a giant concrete slab every bit as drab and unappealing as Red Square or Tiananmen Square, and no shade whatsoever. And on top of that, they’re squeezing all the tents together in a smaller space than what the lengthy and more spacious Reforma has to offer.

There’s not even anyplace to sit down and enjoy the food you purchase in the tents. So, buy your Venezuelan arepas or Argentinian empanadas, and stand around in the intense midday sun while you eat. Fun!

Plus, the mobs of people on this opening day of the fair (as we said, the Zócalo is a smaller venue, so shoving the attendees into a much more confined space makes things worse) made entering any tent and buying food almost impossible. There was no place to walk, and no order at all surrounding the tents we attempted to visit. Were there any orderly lines to order food? Not that we could see. But people were everywhere. Chaotic.

Live music on stage. (Photo: Darren Popik)

Mariachis provide opening day entertainment. (Photo: Darren Popik)

Even in the past couple years, with growing crowds on Reforma, it was never as unpleasant at it was on day one of this year’s festival.

Smart move, whoever it is in the Mexico City government that is responsible for this.

According to reports, city officials decided that the crowds were getting to big for Reforma, so they decided to move things to the Zócalo. Ha … far from improving things, they have succeeded in making things worse.

There should be great food here - if only you can manage to get into the tent. (Photo: Darren Popik)

There should be great food in the Argentinian tent – if you can manage to shove your way through the crowd to actually get into the tent. (Photo: Darren Popik)

Great. Now in addition to the aforementioned problems, they are also going to miss the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of office workers concentrated along the Reforma corridor who used to leave their offices at lunchtime to go enjoy the fair and have a bite to eat.

Plus, add up how many people live within a short walk of Reforma, and you have an enormous base of attendees. Millions. The Zócalo, on the other hand, is not as accessible. Most people will have to drive or take the Metro; few actually live around the Zócalo, unlike the Reforma corridor.

Yes, the Feria de las Culturas Amigas was a great event before. With the variety of food available, you could go have something unique to eat each day of the two week long festival.

Why ruin a good event?

Ask the mayor.

Twitter: @mexdfmagazine

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This entry was posted on May 17, 2014 by in Food and Drink, Music and tagged , , , .
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