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      Beardstown bridges cultures with Cinco de Mayo celebration

      Maricela Chavez moved to Beardstown in 1995, two years after she immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico.

      Determined not to forget where she came from, Chavez helped organize Beardstown's Cinco de Mayo celebration, now in its 11th year.

      "I think the kids shouldn't forget our cultures and our dances from Mexico," she said. "Don't forget our tradition and don't forget our character."

      A big part of the celebration is dance. Chavez teaches authentic Mexican dancing to a group of students from the Beardstown School District.

      "My teachers taught me how to create dances and I love to teach my kids here," she said.

      Beardstown has seen an influx in immigrants over the last decade. Many come to the town for jobs at Cargill, the meat packing facility.

      Julio Flores is president of Amigos Unidos, a group in Beardstown that's geared towards improving the Hispanic community.

      "We are trying to reveal the real identity for all the hispanic population in this town," Flores said. "We need to establish the new generation to do that. It's important to create that reflection and dance is a good way to do that."

      While Flores says it's important to remember where you came from it's also important to know where you're going. Flores hopes the Cinco De Mayo celebration can be used as a guide.

      "This is a way to create a better relationship with the Anglo population in this town and it's an other way to change their perception about the Hispanic population," he said. "We are here to work but we are also bringing a culture here."

      Chavez believes that's the message her dance group has helped spread since the Cinco De Mayo celebration first started. When she use to think, "maybe the Anglo people don't understand this," she said. "But now we do it every year and they love it. They come and enjoy their time here."

      Watch more authentic Mexican dancing by, clicking here .