West Chicago’s Viva Mexico Independence Day Festival, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, September 16 & 17, 2017, is fast approaching and the lineup of exciting attractions continues to grow. Due to the scope of this multi-faceted celebration, organizers turned the single-day event into a two-day event last year and were successful in attracting crowds both days. The Festival is presented by the Mexican Cultural Center DuPage, with funding from the City of West Chicago.
The event is staged in the heart of the community’s downtown along Main Street, and promises an authentic experience of West Chicago’s Mexican heritage through music, dance, costumes, food and much more.
Mariachi Aztlan from the University of Texas Rio Grand Valley and Others
One of the biggest highlights this year will be a night of live music performed by the leading educational mariachi programs from across the country and Mexico. This spectacular multi-Mariachi concert takes place on Saturday, September 16, 2017 from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m., and will feature groups from middle school programs to top level university ensembles.
Mariachi Aztlan from the University of Texas Rio Grand Valley, one of the premier collegiate mariachi programs in the country, will be joined by a very special guest from the University of Veracruz Mexico, Maestro Ivan Velasco who is a Harp Specialist. The concert program for the evening also includes Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, which is quickly becoming one of the top youth mariachi ensembles in the country, featuring a group of Chicago Public School students from the city’s immigrant barrios; C.O.D.A., a violin-only ensemble composed of regional middle school students; and West Chicago’s very own Mariachi los Rayos de Leman Middle School.
By collaborating with West Chicago’s Community School District 33 Mariachi Program, the DuPage Mexican Cultural Center has a unique opportunity to accomplish its mission to encourage and promote Mexican heritage through cultural, ethnic and civic activities designed to educate the Mexican-American community and the community at large. “This reflects what West Chicago is today, rich and full of Mexican culture and tradition. Our students will get exclusive access to working with the visiting groups, and also take part in the performances as well”, said Fernando Ramirez, President and Founder of the Mexican Cultural Center DuPage.
El Grito de la Independencia
Another centerpiece of the Viva Mexico Independence Day Festival is the reenactment of El Grito de la Independencia or The Cry of Independence. El Grito originally took place on the morning of September 16, 1810, when Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo from the small town of Dolores in the state of Guanajuato Mexico began ringing church bells to signal that Mexican Patriots had freed Pro-Independence inmates from jail, beginning the revolt against the Spanish rule of Mexico. This was the start of the Mexican War of Independence.
Today in West Chicago, the spirited reenactment of El Grito includes the ringing of a an old train bell acquired at Koehles’s Trading Post in the early sixties by the late Lorenzo Covarrubias of West Chicago, who was known as the “Patron de la Campana” (Patron of the Bell). Mr. Covarrubias came to the United States from Mexico in 1949 bringing his family in 1955 and settling in West Chicago in 1957. The bell is on loan to the City for use in this annual celebration of independence and freedom. El Grito will take place on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 1:00 p.m.
A 13’ Piñata
Returning this year in a huge way will be a 13’ burro (donkey) piñata created by West Chicago resident Victor Arellano. It was built to attract the community and its neighbors to the Viva Mexico Independence Day
Festival to celebrate a significant piece of Mexican heritage. The burro (donkey) was chosen because it’s a traditional Mexican icon during the Christmas holiday. It represents “Las Posadas”, where children re-create the voyage Mary & Joseph took while searching for an inn riding a “burro”.
Those who attended the event last year will remember the thrill of seeing the piñata hoisted up by crane approximately 30’ feet in the air, followed by a countdown to the release of many pounds of candies and treats for the kids in attendance by Mayor Ruben Pineda. The excitement was captured on video by Alderman Melissa Birch Ferguson who had a front row view.
For a complete schedule of West Chicago’s Viva Mexico Independence Day Festival, click here.