Event | 23rd Annual Mariachi Festival at Mariachi Plaza

The original Mariachi Festival of Los Angeles is proud to present the 23rd Annual Mariachi Festival at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights California on Sunday November 24, 2013 from 10 am to 4:30pm. This year the festival pays tribute to the female mariachi, with stellar performances including the Grammy Award-Winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea.

The Mariachi Plaza Festival Foundation continues the tradition started in 1990. The Mariachi Plaza Festival Foundation was formed in 2010 and is comprised of local organizations that have been involved with the Mariachi Festival for the past 24 years.  The mission of the Mariachi Plaza Festival Foundation is “To celebrate the heritage of Mariachi Culture, nurture it’s presence in our community and invite new audiences to experience its intricate magnificence”.

The City of Los Angeles is a port of entry and melting pot for people all over the world.  The community of Boyle Heights has been a residential destination for multi-generational Mexican families and many others groups since the 19th century.  It has been and remains a cultural kaleidoscope, historically including large Jewish and Japanese communities. The large Mexican-American presence in the area has influenced facets of social and economic enterprises.  Much of the rich Mexican culture permeates throughout the area in the architecture, restaurants, religious institutions and cultural centers, especially musical.

One of the most salient destinations in Boyle Heights is Mariachi Plaza located at First and Boyle Street. The location earned its name from the Mariachis that lived in the area. Near the intersection was the location of the Boyle Hotel, which offered single mariachis an affordable place to live. Since many of the men who resided and worked in this area were musicians they often gathered at local bakeries and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.  For decades the musicians have enjoyed congregating at the intersection, enjoying openness of the courtyard formed by the splitting of First Street at Boyle and Pleasant Avenue.

The Mariachi has long been venerated as an icon of Mexican culture, but has also been used as a symbol of community and social justice in Boyle Heights. Beginning in 1985, the Community of East Los Angeles organized an environmental justice movement, to prevent a State Prison from being built in East Los Angeles. During the protests, mariachis from First and Boyle marched alongside the Mothers of East Los Angeles. The Mariachi became an iconic organizing tool.  Mariachis would be hired to play in each victory after legislative hearings in the Senate and the Assembly.

The Community of Boyle Heights were accustomed to listening to the Mariachis and hiring them for special events at the Boyle and 1st St intersection in the heart of Boyle Heights. In addition to aesthetics and art, the Mariachi Plaza serves as a reminder of a cultural identity and encourages traditions that transcend borders and generations.

In 1991, Frank Villalobos of Barrio Planners Inc. had the dream of building a Mariachi Plaza for the Mariachis and local community similar to the Plaza de Garibaldi in Mexico City. In order to give the Plaza authenticity, Frank and Guillermo Villalobos (Architects from Barrio Planners), with the company of Henry Gonzalez, Field Deputy to then Councilman Richard Alatorre, traveled to Jalisco Mexico to ask the Governer of Jalisco to donate a Kiosko from the Plaza to be brought to the Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. It was then designed by Barrio Planners in collaboration with the Gobierno Del Estado de Jalisco, Secretaria de Desarrollo Urbano, Direccion General de Obras Publicas.

Upon the City of LA receiving the Kiosk, the Bureau of Engineering, Architectural division, designed the structure and construction was funded by Metro. Ricardo Valdez, Frank Villalobos, Henry Gonzalez and the local Mariachi groups requested for the City of Los Angeles to consider the possibility of hosting a Mariachi Festival at that location.

November 22nd was selected as the 1st Mariachi Festival because it is the day of commemoration for Santa Cecilia, the patron saint of Musicians. Ever since then, the Mariachi Festival has brought together thousands of people of varying ethnicities. The MTA has been a partner in the development of the Metro Gold Line which has a subway station located at First and Boyle intersection, directly under the Mariachi Plaza. The Lucha Reyes Statue at the plaza was installed to commemorate Lucha Reyes, the mother of Ranchera music, a famous Mexican female Mariachi Singer. Bailey St will include a secondary street name called Avenida Lucha Reyes to pay tribute to the Singer. The Plaza has been the perfect setting for generations to explore, learn and practice their culture. Since 1993, this section of Pleasant Ave was renamed as the Mariachi Plaza de Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has been a partner in the development of the Metro Gold Line which has a subway station located at First and Boyle, directly under the Mariachi Plaza. In an effort to build the station box Metro acquired property adjacent to the Kiosk and build the station with a portal entrance which in line with the axis of the Kiosk.

The station named Mariachi Plaza Station was dedicated December 9, 2009.  The design of the station features elements of design, which resemble the Kiosk.  It features Cantera Rosa as the material for the station canopy and it uses the mariachi decoration which was borrowed from the Mexican folkorico dancers dress.  The plaza was expanded and features a performing stage for use by the mariachis.

A committee of Boyle Heights residents was formed and are responsible for the ongoing yearly mariachi festival which has been held for twenty-three (23) consecutive years.

Trio Ellas is a power trio making music somewhere between traditional mariachi and classic romantic trio with a fresh contemporary twist. Trio Ellas is Suemy Gonzalez on violin and vocals, Nelly Cortez on guitarron and vocals, and Stephanie Amaro on guitar and vocals. Their high level of musical proficiency has allowed them to circumvent stereotypes and work at a world class level.

Established in July of 1995, Mariachi Voz de America has had the privilege of entertaining audiences both locally and internationally. They have accompanied a number of international recording artists and have appeared in most of the local television stations and radio stations. They represented the City of Los Angeles in a two-week tour of Jalisco, Mexico in the annual Encuentro del Mariachi International Festival. They were representatives of the Mexican Folklore Culture in a six-week tour throughout France.

Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles fondly captivate audiences with a vivacious spirit. Enriching the Mariachi forum as America’s first all female mariachi ensemble, Reyna de Los Angeles bring sensitivity, beauty, warmth and an attractive perspective to the realm of Mexico’s musical heritage. Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles are mesmerizing, energetic and irresistible. You will relish their dynamic expression which fuels the intensity and power characteristic of the mariachi.

Directed and founded by trumpet player Cindy Shea in 1999, the Mariachi Divas have made big waves on the national and international music scene. With four Grammy nominations, including 1 Latin Grammy nomination, and 1 Grammy award under their belts, the Mariachi Divas are a unique, multicultural, all female ensemble, imbued with the true flavor of Los Angeles and have been represented by women of Mexican, Cuban, Samoan, Argentinean, Colombian, Panamanian, Puerto Rican, Swiss, Japanese, Honduran, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Peruvian, Tongan and Anglo descents. All together, the Divas discography includes 8 albums released through Shea Records and East Side Records. Since September 2003, the Mariachi Divas are the official mariachi of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, performing weekly for audiences of all ages.

Mariachi Divas

Las Colibri or the “Hummingbirds” have a passion for music deeply rooted in the tradition of mariachi. These women are flying into new territory as they take a smaller and contemporary approach to the performance of ranchera music. After years of achieving much success individually as instrumentalists and vocalists in various professional arenas, these women have come together to form a stringed ensemble tht is like no other in it’s genre. Aside from their unique interpretation of traditional sones, huapangos, and rancheras, audiences will also recognize sounds of jazz, rock, oldies, and R&B through their innovative arrangements. With a lovely blend of vocal harmonies beautiful smiles, and traditional mariachi instrumentation consisting of a Guitarron (Bass), Guitar, Vihuela (Soprano Guitar), and Violins, Las Colibri will be sure to get you laughing, crying, singing and even dancing to their contagious beats and melodies.

In addition to all the main mariachi performances, the 23rd Mariachi Festival will host folklorico dancers, arts activities, photo opportunities, art exhibitions, delicious food, and information booths about health access and local organizations that service the local community. Food booths will include a variety of tasty dishes, including pupusas from Un Solo Sol Kitchen, raspados, aguas frescas and fruit salads from Guillen’s Fruits and Veggies, Tortas and Pupusas from Pupusas Pati Y Fabi, Potato Tacos and Quesadillas from Antojitos Mexicanos Karina, Pambosos and Quesadillas from Balbina’s, Tacos de Barbacoa from Mi Ranchito, and Tacos Guisados from El Sol Bakery and Restaurant. Other local eateries and businesses will participate in the Mariachi Festival with wonderful food and products, and will be offering discounts to Metro riders who present their Metro Pass. A complete list of participating businesses and discounts will be available at the Mariachi Plaza information booth, but include, Un Solo Sol Kitchen, Santa Cecilia Restaurant, Yeya’s Mexican Food, JFC Ice Cream Shop, La Plaza Restaurant (offering Mexico Cty style tamales for the holidays), Box Wireless, Primera Taza, Jim’s Burgers, Super Torta’s Luisitos El Sol Bakery and Restaurant, and more.

STEM UP and Great Minds in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) alongside Disneyland Resorts will provide youth and family activities, including face painting, games, and prizes. Espacio 1839’s Nico Avina will have a silkscreen station and sell his originally designed t-shirts and other clothing. Artists Raul Gonzalez, Dianna Martinez, Bianca Estrada, Lilia Ramirez, Juan Solis and more will display and sell their paintings, photography, jewelry and other original artwork.

Million Trees LA will have fruit trees available for private properties within the City of Los Angeles. Verification will be required (Driver license, ID or DWP electric bill) and trees are distributed on a first come, first served basis while they last and limit is one tree per address. Fuego Tech of Boyle Heights will handle the distribution of trees.

Author: Richard Sandoval

Richard Sandoval is an award winning journalist who produces Hispanic Lifestyle a television program broadcasting on several PBS stations throughout the United States. editorial@Hispaniclifestyle.com

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