There’s something new this year at Kansas City’s annual Fiesta Hispana — a little Puerto Rican and Caribbean vibe.
Salsa music at a Mexican fiesta?
Sure, why not? At this annual event at Barney Allis Plaza there is room for all flavors of Latin, organizers say.
Organizers change up the entertainment every year. Last year, Dolewite, a popular Kansas City hip-hop tribute band, kicked off the two-day fiesta with a Friday night pre-party.
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This year the fiesta is a three-day event, Friday through Sunday. Last year it attracted 20,000 people. This year organizers expect to see 25,000.
“Adding a third day allows us to broaden the scope of the entertainment,” said David Tinoco, president of the nonprofit Greater Kansas City Hispanic Heritage Committee, which works year-round planning the event.
The entertainment is the “crescendo at the end of each day, good headliners, people that (Kansas Citians) have never seen before. That’s how we keep the fiesta fresh,” said Tinoco. “People say, ‘I want to go there.’”
Friday night’s lineup features traditional music from two bands from Mexico, Grupo Control and Alacranes Musical.
Saturday night’s “Battle of the DJs, Latin Night Raver” will pay tribute to Kansas City percussionist and vocalist Miguel “Mambo” DeLeon, who brought the salsa sound to town more than 20 years ago and founded several mambo and salsa groups.
He also performed with Cuban singer Celia Cruz, the international “Queen of Salsa,” so expect a lot of salsa sounds on Saturday, Tinoco said.
Tejano takes over on Sunday with music from Ruben Ramos, a member of the Tejano Music Awards Hall of Fame. He and his band, Mexican Revolution, won a Grammy in 2009 for Best Tejano album of the year.
But the fiesta isn’t just about music. Several years ago organizers added a boxing tournament to the weekend. This year that means 20 boxing bouts to watch every day, featuring boxers from all over the Midwest.
And yes, there’s Mexican food. But Tinoco puts just as much weight in the college fair where people can talk to representatives from local universities. University of Missouri-Kansas City is helping to sponsor that outreach this year.
And vendor booths will showcase Kansas City businesses run by Hispanics.
“It’s a true community fiesta,” said Tinoco. “It’s to recognize the impact in many genres that Hispanics have made … on American culture. We have come a long way.”
Next year the fiesta will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
The planning starts as soon as the curtain falls on this weekend.
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When: 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Barney Allis Plaza, 12th and Wyandotte streets, downtown Kansas City
Info: Fiesta Hispana’s Facebook page.