- On July 26, 2015
- In Culture
Everything that Happened at Festival Betances
We are very proud of our heritage, and we love to share it with our Boston community. Every year for the past 45, we have held a weekend-long cultural festival so that people from all over New England can get to know about our music, our food, and spend time with their families while they dance and participate in a wide variety of activities. We are more than happy to say that Festival Betances 2015 was a complete success. But, just in case you couldn’t make it, or might have missed something and want to know more, here’s a total overview of everything that happened at Festival Betances 2015. Our CEO, Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, kicked off the evening festivities on Friday night, “Festival Betances has become a staple of what Latino culture and Puerto Rican culture is for the city of Boston and for the entire region,” she said. She explained the festival’s history and the reason behind its name, which honors Ramón Emeterio Betances, a Puerto Rican patriot whose medical contributions benefitted Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Official festival supporters such as, Mayor Marty Walsh, Felix Arroyo; Chief of Health and Human Services in Boston, and Rep. Byron Rushing also gave opening remarks. [caption id="attachment_3711" align="aligncenter" width="715"] CEO, Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, kicks off Festival Betances[/caption] After such a warm welcome, a Villa Victoria resident, Doña Maria Flores, gave festivalgoers her rendition of Puerto Rico’s national anthem, “La Borinqueña.” Then it was time for our community procession around the neighborhood. Over 400 individuals participated each with their own music blasting from their respective decorated antique cars, from dancers to fellow nonprofits, as the crowd watched them walk and dance to the beat around Boston’s South End. [caption id="attachment_3710" align="aligncenter" width="693"] Doña Maria Flores singing "La Borinqueña."[/caption] The first day of Festival Betances came to a close with Wilson Vera y su Trio, a local bohemia trio that treated the audience to romantic Puerto Rican ballads. These ballads, or Bohemia music follow a romantic and a bit nostalgic rhythm that characterizes our older generations. The trio gave a soulful performance with joyful interpretations, while still capturing the Bohemia spirit. [caption id="attachment_3712" align="aligncenter" width="714"] Wilson Vera y su Trio[/caption] Saturday was International Day so many local bands and Djs came to play different styles of music, from jazz with Carmelita Latin Jazz band to reggaeton with Eric “El Melodioso” -- who shared how impressed he was by the festival and what a big opportunity it was to be able to perform on the Betances stage. Throughout the day we organized a variety of activities for all ages: children played around with their faces painted and spent hours jumping on the inflatable castles. It was also the beginning of our Betances domino tournament which health Commissioner Felix Arroyo joined for a few games. Hyde Park entertained the festivalgoers by showcasing their talents with a special performance playing the drums. And of course, the music and food never stopped. [caption id="attachment_3713" align="aligncenter" width="725"] Hyde Square Task Force performing[/caption] Speaking of food… Attendees enjoyed traditional Puerto Rican food like alcapurrias, bacalaitos, tostones, and pinchos as well as Mexican tacos and horchata. Horchata is a sweet typical Mexican drink that resembles milk, but it’s lighter and it is made of rice, vanilla, and cinnamon. There was also a stand dedicated solely to Piña Coladas, one of the crowd’s favorities. The festival concluded at 9:00 PM, closing with Mambo and Swing playing bachata and merengue. This local band plays classic songs, from the likes of Juan Luis Guerra and Gilberto Santa Rosa with their own personal touch. As they describe it, the audience gets to dance to the songs they know and love, but also experience them in a different way than they have ever before. The excitement continued on Sunday which began with our famous Greased Pole competition. Many try, but only a few can make it. It isn’t a dangerous game, but it does take a lot of physical effort. Those who dare compete by climbing a slippery pole in the hopes of reaching the Puerto Rican flag tied at the end to win a cash prize. It’s a lot of fun, for both contestants and the cheering audience as they watch the different teams attempt this difficult feat. Ultimately Jose Rodriguez got the flag, scoring the victory for his team, Team Gio. [caption id="attachment_3716" align="aligncenter" width="713"] Teamwork at its best during the Greased Pole competition.[/caption] After the competition it was all about Puerto Rico, since it was Puerto Rican Heritage Day. All the bands on the line up played traditional music from the island. Among the most notable was Zayra Pola y su Orquesta who delighted the audience with her classic take on salsa and he impressive talent playing Timbales. There was also a beautiful performance by the talented dance group composed of young girls, Fuerza Internacional, dressed in Puerto Rican costumes and even getting the crowd to dance with them. [caption id="attachment_3720" align="aligncenter" width="714"] Fuerza Internacional dances with the crowd[/caption] City Council member, Charles Yancey, was present and he went on stage to speak about how thankful he was for IBA’s community in Villa Victoria and also about how great it is to bring Dominos to Boston, since it isn’t recognized as a sport in the U.S, but he does and many believe it should be. [caption id="attachment_3717" align="aligncenter" width="706"] City Council Member, Charles Yancey, speaking at Festival Betances[/caption] … And we saved the best for last. The evening closed with the popular salsa duo, NG2, who came straight from Puerto Rico just for the occasion. They played some of their best songs, such as their latest hit “Mi Salsa no Viene en Lata,” “Como Amigo No,” and “Amores Extraños.” Absolutely no one was sitting still during this performance, everyone was dancing. It was truly a special occasion. [caption id="attachment_3719" align="aligncenter" width="711"] NG2 performs at Festival Betances[/caption] Now that the music is over and the stands are gone, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made our festival possible one more year - our sponsors, our volunteers, and especially - everyone who came to enjoy this weekend. Festival Betances is about its people, and all of you made it a weekend to remember. We are already planning for Festival Betances 2016, we hope that you can all make it next year and not just read about it, but experience the real thing. If you want to contribute to make this and other community events possible you can donate here....