Fiesta Hispana comes to Rockford in July

Fiesta Hispana comes to Rockford in July


Buenos dias, amigos! Once again, Fiesta Hispana is coming to Rockford on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14 at Davis Park downtown. Get ready for two days of family fun featuring authentic food, live entertainment, dancing and special events: a Jalapeno Pepper Eating Contest, Grito (Yelling) Contest, Folkloric Dance Workshop, Queen Pageant, Kiddie Carnival, and Children’s Arts & Crafts area. Fiesta Hispana partners with CentreEvents to bring this colorful ethnic festival to Davis Park.

Featured band: Emilio Navaira

Born in San Antonio, Texas, son of a retired barber and a bilingual teacher’s assistant, Emilio Navaira had music throughout his childhood. When he was six, his father taught him a song, and by the next family gathering, Navaira’s father would ask him to sing that song to his grandmother and the rest of the family. Ever since, Navaira and music have been inseparable.

During Navaira’s school days, he participated in the Vestal Elementary Choir, Terrell Wells Middle School Choir and McCollum High School Choir in San Antonio, where he won first prize awards in UIL solo and ensembles competitions. He also played “Fredrick” in the musical The Sound of Music at the Fiesta Dinner Theater in San Antonio. After receiving a scholarship to Southwest Texas State University, he became the lead vocalist for David Lee Garza y Los Musicales.

In 1989, Navaira went out and formed his own band, named Emilio y Grupo Rio. He first signed with Cara Records. Then, after two records, Capitol/EMI signed Navaira up and produced 12 albums, for which they received numerous gold and platinum records. In 1994, Capitol/Nashville signed Emilio y Rio and recorded their first country album, Life Is Good, which debuted as number 13 on Billboard’s Country Album Charts. “It’s Not the End of the World” was the first single from the debuted album and was released in both English and Spanish. It climbed the country and Latin music charts simultaneously. Starting the new millennium, Emilio y Grupo Rio signed with BMG US Latin and recorded “El Rey del Rodeo.” Navaira single-handedly has broken barriers in the Tejano industry. Navaira was the first to win “Album of the Year” (Progressive) in 1993, the first to win “Video of the Year” in 1995, the first to win “Tejano Country of the Year” in 1996, and also won “Humanitarian of the Year” in 1998. Navaira also performed at the Dallas and San Antonio symphonies in 1996, was on the Alan Jackson 1996 Concert Tour, sang at several Dallas Cowboys half-time shows, and in 1997 set the record attendance at the Houston Livestock & Rodeo, and has participated in all of the San Antonio major parades as Grand Marshal.

Since 1990, every year Navaira has hosted Emilio’s “Tejanos for Children” foundation in San Antonio, Texas. This foundation benefits Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. Navaira’s “Tejanos for Children” has raised more than $600,000 for this worthy cause.

Pianist Samuel Del Real

Samuel Del Real comes from Colombia, and by age 10, he began studies at the Bellas Artes Music School in Barranquilla. At 16, he began his professional career while performing as a pianist for the Pacho Galan Orchestra, creator of Merecumbe, tropical rhythm considered today as a classic of the Latin music arena. The next two years would prove to be the conceptual foundation of his musical roots. He began performing with local musicians on radio programs, local shows and cameo appearances with several local and national bands.

In 1975, he moved to Caracas, Venezuela, where he continued to further develop his career, performing extensively with his group. During this time, Del Real and his Orchestra received a commission to conduct, coordinate and accompany all the international shows and artists at one of the most exclusive hotels in the city, The International Tamanaco Hotel. He was also working for recording companies as pianist and arranger as well as producer of diverse recording projects.

In 1978, he decided to expand his horizons even further by studying harmony and counterpoint at the Juan José Landaeta Conservatory, along with notables such as guitarist and composer Antonio Lauro. He also studied piano and Form Analysis at the Philharmonic of Caracas Conservatory.

In 1979, Del Real joined La Dimension Latina, a famous Venezuelan Latin-salsa band, and toured almost the entire American continent, playing some of the best plazas in the continent. The business connections he made would take him as arranger for people such as Oscar D’Leon, Andy Montanes and many others.

In 1983, Del Real regrouped his own band to produce his first album, released under the Venezuelan record label Velvet. His first hit, Ella No Baila Sola, became the theme song in every night club of Colombia, Venezuela and Panama, among others. A second album in 1984, Cara de Domingo, was another smash hit.

In 1985, Samuel Del Real moved to the United States, choosing Chicago as his headquarters. Here he formed his own group with members of different nationalities. Such diversity has enriched his rhythmic style and harmony even more, leading to more success in the market. Del Real produced his third album in 1987 under his independent label, INSA Records. In 1994, he recorded his fourth album, again under INSA. Barranquilla Sacala a Bailar is an homage to his native Barranquilla. Passion, rhythm and talent highlight every one of the songs in this CD. Look for more releases from this talented performer.

Festival hours

Hours for Fiesta Hispana are: Saturday, 12 noon to midnight; Sunday, 12 noon to 11 p.m. Advance sales: $5 for a one-day ticket. Admission is $7 daily at the gate. Children 7 and under get in free. Fiesta Hispana hosts an annual fiesta and raises funds to provide scholarships to Hispanic students. Fiesta Hispana also strives to promote local Hispanic businesses and organizations to better serve our community.

Tickets are available at the MetroCentre, 300 Elm St., Rockford; call (815) 968-5222; all MetroCentre outlets or visit

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