by MARCELLA IVINS/Staff Writer
Dancers in brightly colored dresses, Mariachi performers, and workshops were among the highlights of the recent Viva Aztlan Festival.
The event, which was held on March 11-March 12 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, featured a special Mariachi showcase, a Ballet Folklorico competition, and several workshops for adults and children.
Groups that performed and competed at the festival were from all over Texas. Vidal Aguero came up with the idea 22 years ago, and the festival has continued since then, even after his death. Aguero’s daughter, Zenaida Aguero-Reyes, is the director of the festival. Before the showcase on Friday evening, Reyes paused for a moment of silence to remember and honor her father. Their purpose for the festival wasn’t just for the competitions, according to Reyes.
“We want to educate,” Reyes explained. “That was my dad’s primary purpose. He wanted to educate anybody and everybody that came. It wasn’t necessarily a competition, even though that’s its label. That’s just what’s going to draw them (the public) here.”
They continue to educate by having workshops for the performers as well. This is what makes the festival significant. They held different workshops for adults and children. At these workshops you are able to make new friends and meet new people. At the same time you are learning something new.
“There’s not very many outlets like this around Lubbock.” Reyes explained. “Our location is a good location for North Texas and New Mexico area. They are able to come here instead of South Texas, where there’s a lot more networking and a lot more outlets that are able to help them.”
Performers, and the public, are able to learn new techniques with the workshops. One of the judges, Jesus “Chuy” Chacon, is also an instructor for the workshop. He says he loves working with the students, and he learns from them as well.
“The students give us a lot of learning experiences,” Chacon said. “You learn from them. You can feel their passion and enthusiasm.”
Chacon is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. He now lives in Austin, Texas, where he has his own Folklorico group. He goes back to Mexico every two years. He said that this helps him keep his technique. Chacon also said that he has been involved in The Viva Aztlan Festival since its first year.
“My favorite thing about the festival is my new friends,” Chacon explained. “It’s nice when I come back and get to see the friends I have made from the last time I was here.”
Friday evening started with Folklorico groups performing, and then the Mariachi performed. On Saturday, the competition was held in the morning. In the evening, the Mariachi showcase featured Mariachi Los Arrieros of El Paso, Texas, and Sebastian De La Cruz of San Antonio, Texas.
This event was made possible by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and Civic Lubbock, along with other sponsors.