Menudo, sopes, gorditas, tortas, gringas, huaraches, mangonadas, and alambres are just some of the specialty dishes of De Queen, Arkansas, population 6,600. A majority of the town’s residents are Latino. Many of them migrated from Mexico to southwest Arkansas for jobs in poultry processing plants. Producer Betsy Shepherd attends Fiesta Fest, the town’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, to sample local food and music and to hear stories from the men and women who make it.


Betsy Shepherd is a freelance writer, radio producer, and all-around music obsessive. She earned master’s degrees in ethnomusicology and journalism from Indiana University, and previously worked at The Oxford American magazine, the Archives of African American Music & Culture, and the nationally syndicated radio program American Routes. When she’s not cutting tape, Betsy is deejaying underground sounds and B-sides around New Orleans and on her favorite radio station, WWOZ.

We thank Blue Dot Sessions, Wendel Patrick, and Jahzzar for music used in this episode.