Vanessa Ramirez calls the upcoming Mariachi and Folklorico Festival an “explosion of color and sound.”
“We have mariachi in the lobby entertaining the guests as they’re coming in,” Ramirez says. “We set up vendors and artisans that promote Mexican culture in the lobby and a special exhibition in the gallery. Then, in the theater, the curtain opens and it’s nonstop entertainment of music and dancers.”
The vibrant event set for 7 p.m. Saturday, October 2, at the Chandler Center for the Arts, celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and is presented in partnership with Ramirez’s C.A.L.L.E. de Arizona. The annual event features the music of Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, Herencia Mexicana, AZ and ranchera and mariachi soloist Sandra Guevara, along with an array of folklorico dancers from Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli-AZ.
“We’re excited,” says Ramirez, the executive and artistic director of Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli-AZ. “We did it last year, but it was virtual. It simply wasn’t the same, but we wanted to keep the tradition alive.
“This year, I wanted to focus a lot more on local talent. I wanted to bring Mexico here because many of us can’t travel. I wanted to make sure it’s a quality show that brings a lot of different types of people. I want it to expand the knowledge of what the Mexican culture is, which is dance and traditions. I wanted to make it fun, entertaining and educational.”
C.A.L.L.E. de Arizona is a nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing a positive community environment, promoting the beauty of the Mexican/Hispanic culture, carry on a powerful legacy, instill and teach leadership to youth by setting the example, and above all promote the importance of education, she said.
The organization was founded as the Chandler Coalition for Civil and Human Rights Inc. in 1997 by Joe Garcia and Eddie Encinas after the Chandler Police Department and Border Patrol “rounded up” undocumented people living in Chandler.
The moves resulted in lawsuits, and once they were settled, the nonprofit looked at ways to show city and state officials that it could be a positive part of the community. Events followed, like the Cinco de Mayo Chihuahua Races and the mariachi festival in Downtown Chandler.
When Garcia and Encinas died, Garcia’s wife handed the reins to Ramirez. She admits it was a little nerve wracking, but she’s excited about her work.
“There’s no way but up,” she says. “Every year we continue to grow and expand and make it bigger and better. I don’t have a huge team that works with me. But I’m eternally grateful for the support of the team I do have. It’s awesome teamwork and part of the family as well.”
Mariachi and Folklorico Festival
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, October 2
Where: Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Avenue
Cost: $35 to $75
Info: 480.782.2680, chandlercenter.org