Coronation kicks off Mariachi Festival
CALEXICO — The 27th annual Mariachi Festival Sin Fronteras kicked off its four-day revelry on Wednesday with the coronation of the 2018 Senorita Mariachi Festival. That honor went to 21-year-old Calexico resident Estefania Velazquez, who represents the latest in a long line of motivated young women bestowed with the privilege. Although Velazquez admitted having been reluctant to apply for the role, she said her commitment to pursuing a higher education and being of service to the community had likely won over event organizers tasked with making the selection. “I work at the Camarena Library as an aide and want to get a Master’s degree in mathematics so I can be a math teacher,” Velasquez said. For now, Velazquez will busy herself as an ambassador for the city’s signature event, which resumes today for its salsa showdown and Friday for its tequila tasting at the Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center.
On Wednesday, Velazquez shared some of the spotlight with Las Flores del Valle Ballet Folklorico and several Mariachi Idol contestants, who took turns winning over the sizable crowd with their renditions of popular mariachi songs.
The winner of the competition will eventually serve as an opening act during Saturday’s mariachi concert at Crummett Park, featuring Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar, Mariachi Estrellas De Chula Vista and recording artist Leslie Lugo.
The annual event’s return to Crummett Park was hailed by event organizers as a welcome development.
“Hopefully, the weather will be as nice as it has been,” said Mayor Maritza Hurtado.
Hurtado welcomed those present on Wednesday to the kickoff event, and also thanked the Chamber of Commerce for its efforts in making the annual event a reality.
Now in its 27th year, the event has been hosted in the city of Calexico for the past 20 years and is a perfect fit for the border city, said Hildy Carrillo, chamber director.
“It’s part of our culture and in all of our roots, and it’s wonderful to introduce to new generations,” Carrillo said.
That unexposed new generation was represented on Wednesday by more than a dozen Aurora High School students who will be serving as volunteers throughout the festival’s events.
Although volunteering for the Mariachi Festival will differ from her previous community service, senior Nayna Salais said she is nonetheless looking forward to being of help.
“I think it’s nice to help people and introduce yourself to the community and be part of it,” Nayna said.
Similarly, senior Cesar Parra said having such opportunities could go a long way toward fostering a better sense of community.
“I think it’s awesome because it’s something not everybody takes the time to do,” Cesar said.
Calexico Chamber of Commerce Director Hildy Carrillo and Mayor Maritza Hurtado place the 2018 Senorita Mariachi Festival crown on Estefania Velazquez on Wednesday at the kickoff event for the 27th annual Mariachi Festival Sin Fronteras. JULIO MORALES...