On May 5, 1862, a rag-tag force of vastly outnumbered Mexican soldiers held off well-provisioned French troops backed by heavy artillery in a battle to defend Mexican sovereignty.

The victory is the reason for Cinco de Mayo, and in Chandler revelers don’t just belly up to the margarita bar in commemoration; they race Chihuahuas.

More than 100 of the tiny Mexican dogs will break from the starting line on Saturday, May 4, to compete for cash, trophies and the adulation of the crowd.

The dogs also have a chance to be crowned King or Queen of Chihuahuas, in a coronation contest that follows the races.

A festival surrounding the events provides family friendly live entertainment on stage, a food court, a Chihuahua Store with T-shirts and other merchandise, and Chihuahua adoptions from HALO Animal Rescue.

Additionally, a community health fair will offer free health screenings, and kids will find crafts and the bilingual PBS Kids characters Maya and Miguel.

King and Queen Chihuahuas will win a cash prize, medal and coronation cape. Top racing dogs will get $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third.

Dogs may be registered in advance this year via the festival’s webpage, ChandlerAZ.gov/cinco.

DETAILS >> Cinco de Mayo Festival is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 4. Race registration opens at noon, and Chihuahua races start at 2 p.m. Downtown Library Courtyard, 100 E. Commonwealth Ave., Chandler. Admission is free. Entry fees for dogs to race or compete in the coronation are $10-$25. (480) 782-2735 or ChandlerAZ.gov/cinco.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

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