LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – COVID-19 canceled many things over the past two years, but celebration and music are back in Lansing this weekend with the Cristo Rey Fiesta.

The team behind Fiesta said Friday started a new chapter in the event’s more than 40-year history. After struggling during the pandemic, organizers said they are thrilled to be able to share the vast diversity mid-Michigan has to offer.

“We had to get creative the last two years and we did have a lot of good food but you don’t get the whole experience of culture and life together without the full experience without people coming together,” said Cristo Rey Church Pastor Father Vincent Richardson.

The sound of music and the smells of food are filling tents again for the first time in years outside of Cristo Rey Church.

The Fiesta has been a staple for Lansing’s Latino community since 1979, but pandemic concerns silenced the celebration. Church and community leaders welcomed the hundreds filling the tents along with live dance performances. For Rosa Maria Castillo, she’s glad to see the event return.

“It’s great seeing the community again first of all. And making that reconnection face to face and just enjoy family time,” she said.

Organizers said the three-day event has something to offer everyone. Along with authentic Mexican food, traditional and contemporary music performances dot the schedule. For some in the crowd, the fiesta has become a family tradition.

“I grew up coming to the fiestas, so I am very happy that it came back. That the pandemic is over with because I missed the food. I missed the music and I’m ready to get my dancing on later on tonight,” said attendee Raquel Jimenez.

The festival’s many attractions did not come together overnight. Event leaders said this year’s celebrations have been in the works since September. While tradition and identity are the main drivers, one organizer said it provides a safe haven for the community in all of Lansing.

“There’s a lot of good as well. Coming together, meeting with people, talking to old friends and new friends makes it that much better,” said festival chair Guillermo Lopez.

The proceeds collected during the fiesta benefit the nonprofit’s food bank, assistance and other outreach work. The party goes on all weekend from 11:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. Saturday and 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. on Sunday.