Mayra Sanabria was on the hunt for her fairytale dress. She spotted the powder pink rhinestone embellished corset quinceañera gown Sunday at the Miss Quince y Novias Expo.
Now in its sixth year, the quinceañera and bridal show held at Sonoma County Fairgrounds drew hundreds of people within the first hour, many gathered around a stage to catch a quinceañera gowns runway show. They also wanted to see a demonstration of the waltz — an important part of a quinceañera, a traditional coming-of-age celebration for Latinas turning 15.
The expo last year drew about 1,500 people, said Rafael Barragan, president of Tacolist.com, which put on the event.
“This is a needed thing for the Latino community. It’s not only an expo. It’s a festival for our people,” he said as Mexican folkloric dancers hit the stage behind him.
Dozens of vendors set up booths, promoting DJs, photography and catering services. Makeup artists gave girls quick makeovers and styled their hair.
Leticia Enriquez owns Novedades Mexico, a Petaluma store where she sells clothing for baptisms, first communions and quinceañeras. She said the expo is an important event for businesses like hers.
“It lets me meet a lot of people,” Enriquez said as more than a dozen people crowded her table to ask questions about the dress catalogs and tiaras before she had to run off to help the young models prepare for the runway show.
Quinceañeras mean big money for businesses as Latinos’ buying power continues to surge, reaching $1.7 trillion by 2020, according to a 2016 Nielsen study.
“They treat it like a wedding,” Barragan said about spending. “It’s a very special moment. It can go from a couple thousand dollars to $20,000. There’s no limit whatsoever. They’re willing to spend.”
Families often enlist family members and friends, naming them “godparents,” to help cover some of the more costly items.
Claudia Miranda and niece, Brisey Miranda, 14, were on the prowl for party ideas. The teen will celebrate her quinceañera Nov. 3 but still needs to find a dress, cake and photographer — all of which her aunt considers essential.
“I want her to get inspired,” said 34-year-old Miranda, who only had a small family dinner when she turned 15.
The pair stopped by the Garcia Cakes booth for some free samples.
“I just tried the tres leches cake and I loved it,” Claudia Miranda said while her niece glanced at a nearby glittery white dress, which would have been perfect for her if it was burgundy.
Sandra Garcia, who runs her cake business from her Petaluma home, had set out on a table slices of vanilla, red velvet, tres leches, mocha and piña colada flavored cake.
“It’s a great way to promote my business,” said Garcia, who participated in the expo for the first time last year.
Four attendees last year hired her to make cakes — all but one were for quinceañeras. Depending on the size and frosting, the cakes can range from $400 to $1,500, she said.
Hugo Sanabria, 49, found a baker at the expo Sunday to make the cake for his daughter Mayra’s rose-themed quinceañera, which will be held early next year.