Art & Music art and culture

Authentic Cuban Culture for the Community: Festival Cubano

Friday, August 05, 2016 Jennie Velasco

George Herrera has been at this festival planning game for several years.  He runs EventSource that is responsible for several other open air festivals, and Festival Cubano is entering its seventh year as a way to bridge Cuban culture into the city of Chicago.  "I'm 100% Cuban, my parents came here in the 70's.  I remember as a child here growing up, we used to go to these small Cuban gatherings.  Somewhere along the lines they just stopped.  We used to gather at the park on Cicero and Peterson and families would gather from Rogers Park and Edgewater area where a lot of Cubans lived."

 To emphasis its importance, George mentions other cultures that have their own festivals throughout the year, and although there isn't a large Cuban population in the city, "Chicago is such a melting pot of many different cultures...and I knew I had to do something cause I wanted to learn more about my culture.  I thought the festival would be a perfect way to do that for other people like myself."
The Cuban population in Chicago makes up less than 1% of its total Hispanic population, but George Herrera wanted to make this an opportunity for the Hispanic community to gather and celebrate to which he says is the bulk of the festivals success.  "What's pretty awesome is that other cultures have embraced Cuban fest as their own.  No different than when its St Patty's Day everyone is Irish.  And our first festival we saw over 40,000 people, so I knew this was going to be something that would go far." 

Also noted is the attention to detail in the programming to make the festival as authentic as possible.  When I asked George about what makes this festival different from others, he mentions the recent changes in the relationship with Cuba.  Americans are getting better glimpses of the culture and the recent embrgo lift has eliminated a lot of red tape to get Cuban artists, merchandise, foods, etc to the states.  Check out what you'll experience:
-open play dominoes
-free medical exams
-petting zoo
-Nickelodeon zone
-back to school giveaways
-classic car showcase
-authentic, hand rolled cigars
-carnival setups
-arts and crafts
-music workshops with congas and timbales w/ an instructor

Also a fantastic artist lineup: 
Juan Esteban
Chicago International Salsa Congress
Caribe Project
¡ESSO Afrojam FunkBeat
Orquesta Charengueo
Elvis Crespo
Chicago International Salsa Congress
Matanzas Y Su Timba Feat. Angel D' Cuba
La Obra
Stacie Sandoval Y Su Orquesta
JC Munguia
El Show De Mikey O & Eli Castro
Chicago International Salsa Congress
Yendrys Cespedes Y Su Rumbambere
Angel Melendez & 911 Mambo Orquesta
El Bandolero
Orquesta Charengueo
El Show De Mikey O & Eli Castro

Latin American culture is certainly on the forefront of a lot of conversation and the Latin/Hispanic community is looking to be celebrated and is unifying under an umbrella of fun and great entertainment.  George expressed that the vibe at these events has always been 100% positive with zero incidents.  If your looking for some great family time, get your tickets now and arrive early for three full days (8/12-8/14) of a quality event.   Find out more details (and maybe a few surprises to come) at the festival website

Follow me at the festival on my snapchat! jenniejovegas


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