It bears repeating that Mexican Independence Day is NOT Cinco de Mayo. The true celebration of freedom, which takes place Sept. 16, may still involve tacos and a tequila but it's much more. The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce gets the party started early Saturday with its annual Grito de Dolores in downtown Bakersfield.

In its sixth year, the gathering spreads out across Truxtun Avenue between Chester Avenue and L Street. (Heads-up for people who don't like to be surprised by road closures.) That space accommodates the vendor street fair,  where refreshments, food and other items will be sold. Those wanting an adult beverage can head to the beer garden.

The evening will also feature folklorico dancing, live music including mariachi performers and Banda de Guerra Delfines de la Secundaria #9 de Ensenada Baja California.

Festivities include a re-enactment of the grito, the rallying call made by Father Miguel Hidalgo in 1810 during Mexico’s battle for independence against Spanish rule. Hundreds of attendees are expected to gather at the Liberty Bell for a commemoration of the historic event, with simultaneous television coverage of the celebration in Mexico City, which should be about 10 p.m. here.

This annual celebration is also continues this week's kickoff for KCHCC National Hispanic Heritage Month. (A business networking mixer was held tonight.)

“This an amazing cultural event that has turned into something cultivating in our community," KCHCC President/CEO Jay Tamsi said in a news release. "We bring Mexico to you. We have many surprises and invite the entire community to attend and enjoy our Hispanic culture live in downtown Bakersfield."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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