Equally misguided, he decided, were the area's major Cinco de Mayo festivals. "They appeal to second- or third-generation Mexican-Americans instead of everyday Mexicans," he says. "They don't offer anybody much to do or see except walking between corporate-sponsored booths."
By contrast, everything about Radio Caramba's inaugural fiesta screams spectacle, from its grand advertisement-announcer-ready title -- Cinco de Mayo Weekend Extravaganza -- to a roster that includes animals, acrobats and other exotic attractions. Exhibitors, ballerinas and musicians have been flown in from Mexico at the station's expense; MacDonald says this will allow the Extravaganza to transcend its festival format.
Held at Benjamin Ranch (6401 East 87th Street), the Extravaganza breaks down into daytime diversions (available to those who buy daily passes, which are $10 for adults and $5 for children) and evening entertainment options (which require additional ticket purchases). During the sunlit hours, there are pony rides, a petting zoo, mariachi bands, Mexican folklore dancers and the high-flying Voladores de Paplanta, whose members climb to the top of tall poles, tether themselves to the peak and leap. Artisans spin pottery and weave sombreros, and food vendors deal exclusively in real Mexican cuisine rather than tourist-type fare. "This is not Margarita's or Manny's," MacDonald says.
Friday night's bill focuses on beauty; judges will select this year's Miss Latina Kansas City. Overland Park resident Graciela Stanley, who won last year's local pageant at the Uptown Theater en route to taking the national tiara, hosts the proceedings. After the crowning, starlet Alicia Villareal (think Christina Aguilera's Spanish-language CD, with snappier songs) showcases her stunning vocal range. Formerly the frontwoman of the extremely popular Mexican act Grupo Limite, Villareal went solo, Gwen Stefani-style.
Saturday evening's program includes an outdoor Mexican rodeo, or charreada. Mexican cowboys capture fleeing steer by grabbing their tails, as opposed to the Texas-style tradition of wrestling the animal to the dust. A set from merengue-hip-hop act Grupo Climax, whose latest randy release, Za Za Za, proves that 2 Live Crew-style album art knows no cultural boundaries, comes on the heels of the lasso show.
Sunday's Noche de Rock lineup includes guitar-based groups Los Jaguares, Amantes de Lola and Strike Three. "They're the bomb," MacDonald says.
It might seem ill-advised to mention the word bomb before unveiling an unprecedented event that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce, but MacDonald says he's fear-free. "People are going to love this," he promises. "It's an opportunity to take your whole family to Mexico without leaving Kansas City."