Crystal Figueroa held out her colorful costume featuring hand embroidered flowers representing the Mexican state of Chiapas.
The vibrant blues, pinks, purples and more stood out against the bright yellow silk of the skirt and shirt. A sash bearing her recently bestowed title, Miss Mexican Heritage, and a crown topped off the look.
Figueroa, who turned 19 on Friday, earned the distinction during the 53th Mexican Heritage Fiesta.
It’s a family thing; her sister Angelica Figueroa held the title for the 50th Fiesta, and her brother, Edwardo Figuero, was Mr. Jovencito when he was small, she said.
The annual Fiesta, sponsored by the Mexican Heritage Society, showcases the culture of Mexico and features food, drink, dance and more.
Figueroa said the event showcases the Hispanic culture in a way not many people get to see.
For the pageant she had to learn about the state she represented, from traditional foods to the natural environment. Her dress is symbolic of that region.
“The traditional is either black or white silk, but the lady who custom-made this dress used yellow because it would stand out more. I believe her on that,” Figueroa said.
The state of Chiapas is tropical, she said, which is the reason for the flowers on the dress. The residents of the state eat seafood and enjoy green salsa.
She is proud to take part in the Fiesta and pageant.
“It’s a good way to show the Mexican heritage not only with the costume,” she said. “You are meeting others and learning about other people. It’s an honor.”
Flisha Ramirez, an organizer with the Fiesta, called Figueroa an amazing young lady.
“We are excited she is our queen for 2021-2022,” Ramirez said. “She is going to do amazing things.”
The Fiesta is a way to keep the culture alive. She said it is a way to educate everyone from the dancers to the pageant contestants to the community about the colorful history of Mexico.
Figueroa is a busy college student at Lamar University majoring in business entrepreneurship.
She spent a majority of her life in Port Arthur until Hurricane Harvey destroyed the family’s home. They ended up moving to Labelle, and she is a 2021 graduate of Hamshire-Fannett High School.
A dance student for 15 years, Figueroa was a captain in the high school’s drill team for two years.
She continues to make dance a part of her life and teaches hip hop at Debbie’s Dance in Groves and helps owner and studio namesake affectionately known as “Miss Debbie”
“I enjoy dancing, it doesn’t feel like work. I feel it’s more like a hobby,” Figueroa said. “I wanted to keep dance in my life a long time, even after graduation.”
As for the future, Figueroa is looking to follow her dreams of owning a coffee shop. She’s hoping to find experience in college with the financial aspect of business to help her learn to run her own.
“I plant on living up to my dreams of what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.
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