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October 9, 2012 > Mariachi Festival swings into its third year

Mariachi Festival swings into its third year

By M. J. Laird

Hayward will host its third annual mariachi festival, Feria de Mariachis de Hayward Tres, on Friday, October 12 at the Hayward City Hall Plaza downtown at B and Watkins Streets. The free festival features continuous music with performances by Bay Area groups. Mariachi Juvenil de Hayward opens the event at 5 p.m. and will be followed by Bale Folclorico Costa de Oro, Mariachi Halcones de Oakland, Mariachi Dos, Mariachi Mexicanisimo and Tianguis, most of whom performed at last year's festival.

Founder and Hayward City Council Member Francisco Zermeno, who launched the festival with Hayward City Council Member Mark Salinas, says "bring a blanket and a chair" for a night of Latino culture. The festival will offer Hispanic foods and arts for sale in an outdoor market.

Launched at Chabot College with 300 people attending, the festival charged an admission fee. By the second year, the festival was free and attendance doubled. Zermeno, who teaches Spanish at Chabot College, expects at least 600 to attend this year.

After attending mariachi festivals in San Jose and Modesto, Zermeno wanted to develop more city pride and proposed a festival in Hayward, to bring distinction to the Bay Area's fifth largest city. Zermeno also views the festival as a way for many Latinos, who make up 40 percent of Hayward's population, to honor their motherland, Mexico.

"I wanted to bring something unique from Mexico, something that appeals to all people," says Zermeno, who also launched the Tequila Festival in Hayward that took a hiatus this year while he campaigned and was reelected to a second four-year council term.

"Mariachi is such a happy way of looking at life, the music and the dance. It helps to keep the motherland in my heart," says Zermeno, who came to the United States reluctantly at age 12, leaving his grandfather's ranch. "The music warms my heart. People often refer to the warmth of Mexico. This gives us a chance to relive where we are from."

Mariachi, which began as music of the people, took the natural musicality of Mexico and married it with the European influence of violins, trumpets and guitars. Mariachi groups today often have from six to eight violins, accompanied by two trumpets, and guitars. The vihuela is the round-backed guitar which gives Mariachi its distinction, the guitarro lends the bass sound to the group and a Mexican folk harp enhances the melody and bass. Though originally from Europe, the guitars are distinctly Mexican, helping to create a unique sound.

"The festival is just a pleasant way to spend a late afternoon," says Zermeno. "There's no history talk, just music."

The event showcases a youth mariachi with 100 performers who will open the event. It has drawn strong community support, sponsored by the Latino Business Roundtable of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce, the City of Hayward and La Alianza de Hayward along with 18 corporate and smaller businesses that range from PG&E, Kaiser, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Pucci Foods, R. Zaballos & Sons, Russell City Energy Center, and Terlingua Translation.

Mariachi Festival
Friday, Oct 12
5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hayward City Hall Plaza
(Downtown at B and Watkins Streets)
(510) 537-2424

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