CALEXICO – Residents from all over the Valley and local businesses gathered Monday afternoon in celebration of the 26th Mariachi Festival Sin Fronteras and to crown 2017 Señorita Mariachi Andrea Soto at the Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center.
The coronation was arranged by the Calexico Chamber of Commerce, and executive director Hilby Carrillo, along with 15 board members, deliberated between the ten nominated candidates to pick this year’s royalty.
The board chose Calexico High School senior Soto for the honor. She plays softball and volleyball and participates on the Calexico High cheerleading team. Soto said she plans to attend SDSU – IV to study education and become a third grade teacher.
As the traditional Mexican music played in the background, Carrillo presented Soto to the audience and the crowd cheered as Soto’s smile reflected her gleaming crown.
“I’m excited to see our community unite in order to share and continue our fragrant culture as well as heritage,” said Soto to those attending. “I hope you enjoy our weeklong celebration and don’t miss a day, as each day is a vital part of this city. And to start it all off, viva el mariachi and viva Calexico!”
The weeklong festivity includes the 2017 Mariachi Idol competition, the Viva Calexico “Salsa Tasting Contest!”, the Viva Calexico “Tequila Tasting”, and folkloric ballet performances. The festival will conclude Saturday with a concert featuring Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar, Mariachi Viajeros de UABC, the Mariachi Idol winner, La Voz winner, Oscar Cruz and son Oscar Cruz, Jr., Ballet Folklorico de Naucalpan, and Grupo Neiwama and the Ballet Folkloric de Los Angeles.
Artisans from the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Oaxaca, Mexico displayed a variety of handmade crafts, including beautiful blouses and dresses with vibrant embroidery, detailed house decorations, and Mexican-style handmade purses and bags.
Calexico resident Maria Antonia Gonzalez displayed her traditional Mexican style blouses, dresses, kids’ suits, and accessories that come from Chiapas, Oaxaca and Yucatán, Mexico. Gonzalez said that she originates from Jalisco, Mexico, and that she’s been showing for over 40 years.
“The Chamber of Commerce always invites me to this event, This is my eleventh year attending,” said Gonzalez. “My customers like that I have variety and at good prices. I like to participate in these events and I also display my clothes in Mexicali, Tijuana and San Felipe.”
Calexico’s Community Center program presented the Mexican folkloric dance infantile group. The group’s ages varied from three to 14 year olds. The dancers loosened their colorful skirts in the air and tapped their shoes as the audience clapped along with the traditional music.
“There’s a lot of youth that come from Mexican parents or grandparents and say that they’re Mexican, but they don’t know the culture,” said Carrillo. “We want the tradition to keep going. Mariachi music is an art and it’s part of our culture. The most we can do, the better, and we’re so happy to be here this year.”