"It was fun to bring something new to the people of Portland and to share the rich culture of Mexico and what Latinos have to offer, said Lamberson.
Portland has a longer history with Mexico than many would assume. Anthropologist Lynn Stephen, a professor and director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies at the University of Oregon, points out that in many places in the state, Spanish was spoken before English.
"I always start with reminding people that for a period of time during independent Mexico, Oregon was on the border," says Lynn.
During the colonial period of the United States, Oregon was populated by many native Mexicans, as well as Spaniards, Peruvians and those from other Hispanic countries. According to Stephen, much of that history is "overlooked" in the state in favor of anecdotes about the exploration of Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail.
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Hundreds of years later, the 2010 Census showed that in the previous decade, Oregon's Hispanic population had grown five times faster than any other demographic in the state. Latinos now comprise 12 percent of Oregon's population.
For the organizers, the success of their three-day festival is another indicator of Oregon's changing diversity. While many might not even know Cinco de Mayo's history—it commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla when Mexican soldiers defeated French troops—Portland resident and PGSCA Board of Director Shaun Garcia says the holiday has unified the city's residents, even its diverse Hispanics.
"Although [Cinco de Mayo] represents a Mexican event in history, the Latino community at large has embraced this celebration," said Garcia.
—By Jessica Montoya Coggins, special to NBC News