EL CENTRO – Over 5,000 people attended the 8th Annual “El Grito” Festival Saturday at Stark Field in El Centro on Saturday. The Mexican Consulate, along with the City of El Centro joined efforts in making the event successful.
“When we first began with this celebration seven years ago, the attendance was approximately five hundred people, but today’s attendance has me ecstatic,” said Carlos Flores Vizcarra, Consul Titular of the Mexican Consulate in Calexico.
The festival was conducted by none other than Gerardo Venegas, a famous local television and radio conductor. The Folklorico Valle Del Sol performed the opening show followed by traditional mariachi music by Acero Del Valle and Latin Fuze.
Giving “El Grito de Dolores” was Carlos Flores Vizcarra accompanied by his beautiful wife Esther Vizcarra, who proudly waived the Mexican flag honoring his country.
The Mexican Independence Day commemorates the day Miguel Hidalgo is believed to have made the “cry of independence” (El Grito de la Independencia) in the town of Dolores, in the north-central part of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Hidalgo was one of the nation’s leaders during the War of Independence in Mexico.
There is no scholarly agreement on what was exactly said by Hidalgo, but his speech, also known as the cry of Dolores (el Grito de Dolores), was made on September 16, 1810 to motivate people to revolt against the Spanish regime. Hidalgo’s army fought against the Spanish soldiers in the fight for independence, but he was captured and executed on July 30, 1811. Mexico’s independence was not declared until September 28, 1821.
“I am Mexican, but my kids were born in the U.S.,” said Francisco Perez, a Yuma resident. “I brought them here today so they can learn the meaning behind El Grito and learn about the Mexican Culture, not just the 4th of July.”
During the ceremony, the city of El Centro recognized the Mexicali “Seguro Social” Little League Baseball Team from Mexicali, who placed fourth in the 2015 Little League Baseball World Series in South Wiliamsport, PA, and placed second in the International Bracket, presenting the team with the “Key to the City.”
“It’s a dream for all baseball players at this age to play at the Little League World Series. It is an amazing experience not only for my players but also for me as a coach,” Joel Bimbo Armenta, the coach of the team.
Armenta has been training the team since 2009 when they were about five years old, and he hopes to continue to prepare them for a brilliant future.
“I am honored for the recognition this evening. I never expected to receive the keys of the city. It is simply an honor,” added Armenta.
Additionally, El Centro City Mayor Efrain Silva and Gerardo Venegas awarded Armando Hernandez, Consuelo Negrete, Frances Nicklen, Lorenzo Cancel and Jose Johnson, five Southwest High School senior students, for achieving a high GPA. Each student received a $300 scholarship sponsored by local businesses: Rubens Raspados, Patricia Parrilla Income Tax, Athenea Beltran Immigration, JNS Air Conditioning, Oscar and Jose Barriga and Maria Ramos Real Estate.
This is the first year “B” de Becas Scholarship Fund were granted. The fund began in commemoration of Gerardo Venegas, whom the city of El Centro named that day after the conductor’s show ”V” de Venegas.
“I am thrilled to support education and its importance. This year we handed out five scholarships and hope the number increases yearly,” said Venegas. “This was possible due to the support of our sponsors.”
Surrounding the field were various booths selling traditional antojitos Mexicanos — Mexican snacks such as aguas frescas, clamatos preparados, cold beer, seafood, kettle corn, raspados and of course, tacos.
Joining the celebration was Calexico Council Member Armando Real accompanied by his wife, Priscilla Real, who currently serves as a board member for the Calexico Unified School District.
Prior to the flag waving and El Grito, the famous ’90s group Los Tiranos Del Norte performed on stage driving the crowd wild with their well-known songs like “Hasta La Miel Amarga and Matame a Besos.” followed a local band, Banda San Jose de Jose Alvarado.
“I love this group and music” said Jeanice Padilla, a Calexico resident, once she left the stage after dancing with the group.
Traditionally, Mexicans celebrate their country’s Independence Day on September 16.
Independence Day is a national public holiday in Mexico with banks, schools, government offices and many businesses closed.