It isn't hard to figure out the reason for Cinco de Mayo's growing popularity in the United States.

"It became popular because you get two drinks for one," said Maru Montero, founder of the Maru Montero Dance Company, which organizes the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival on the Mall. "We try not to focus on that part."

This Sunday is the 21st annual Cinco de Mayo Festival on the Mall. The family-friendly event, as always, is free and operates through contributions from sponsors. The event celebrates all Latino cultures, featuring various types of dance, music, crafts, live performances and activities for children.

The festival takes place on the Mall between Eighth and 12th streets, providing a more traditional alternative to tequila shots and cheap beer.

"It's a community commitment," said Montero. "Every year we do it, and every year it's a success."

If you go: Cinco de Mayo Festival on the Mall; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday; free; for more information, visit

More Cinco de Mayo happenings

» Austin Grill: Multiple area locations. Food and drink specials and giveaways. The kicker? Someone is going to win a Harley-Davidson. Visit the website for more.

» Block Party: Head to Clarendon for a Cinco de Mayo block party. The host bars include the Clarendon Grill, Darna, Mad Rose Tavern, Mister Days and Sobe. Food and drink specials, DJs, jugglers, mariachi band, prizes and more. Noon to 8 p.m; $10;

» Capitol City Brewing Company: Both Cap City locations will offer two special beers this weekend: A Michelada and an El Ayudacal. $5;

» El Centro D.F., Masa 14 and Zengo: These three restaurants from Richard Sandoval are featuring $5 margaritas, DJs and food specials until closing on Sunday.

» The Howard Theatre: Palace Productions presents a Sunday Burlesque Soiree Cinco de Mayo show at the Howard Theatre on Sunday. $15 in advance, $20 day of show; 6 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show;

» Pubcrawl: highlights Cinco de Mayo with $1 drafts, $2 bottles and $3 margaritas. Registration starts at Recessions. Noon to 8 p.m.; $10;

» Rosa Mexicano: Live music, giveaways, food and drink at three area locations.

» Surfside: Get a bucket of beer for $19, plus margaritas and tacos. 11 a.m. to midnight;

» The Park at Fourteenth: In keeping with the drinking theme, this nightclub presents Drinko de Mayo from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Drink specials, buffet, DJs and mariachis. $30;