It was a fiesta in Rosedale Park on Saturday, as hundreds of people danced and swayed to the music for the 35th Tejano Conjunto Festival, hosted by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center.
The weather, although rainy in the afternoon, did not stop festival attendees from heading to the festivities and provided cool temperatures that encouraged longer time spent on the dance floor.
The five-day festival is the oldest and the largest of its kind in the nation and many festival-goers and performers travel from long distances to take part in the festivities. Complete with a lineup of big names in the conjunto scene mixed in with newer faces, the gathering is really a cultural event that gives a glimpse into the mixture of culture and heritage that is found in South Texas and northern Mexico.
The music – with accordion, bajo sexto, electric bass, and drums – is the main focus of the weekend, of course, but the Spanglish spoken throughout the crowd, the food, and even the fashion portrayed the mestizaje that is the essence of the Tejano and conjunto genres.
“Its just this celebration of life, this gusto that the music has. It makes people want to tirar un grito, and drink a beer,” Juan Tejeda, curator and co-founder of the festival, previously told the Rivard Report. “… we have a very special way of celebrating life through conjunto and Tejano music.”
(Read more: Nicolás Valdez Embodies Conjunto Sound at Guadalupe)
Student bands from eight different schools around Texas kicked off the afternoon with the conjunto student showcase, followed by bands from Brownsville, Elsa, Edcouch, and Corpus Christi. As the sun began to set over the park, Lázaro Pérez y su Conjunto, Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Díaz, and Los Fantasmas del Valle took the stage back-to-back, the night culminating with a performance by Corpus Christi-based Boni Mauricio y Los Máximos.
Jesse Esparza, a city surveyor, made the trip from Houston with a group of friends and family for their first ever Tejano Conjunto Festival.
“We hear about it all the time, half of H-Town is over here,” Esparza said. “We came over here to see everybody, we’re here for the whole thing today and tomorrow.”
If you missed the celebration, no need to worry – the festival concludes Sunday night with a bang, with performances by nine bands, including iconic local musicians like Flaco Jiménez, Eva Ybarra, and Los Texmaniacs de Max Baca, that will surely leave you anxious for what next year’s event will bring.
For more information on the festival, including start times and ticket prices, click here.
Top image: A couple heads to the dance floor as Los Tremendos V takes the stage. Photo by Scott Ball.