Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Latin Fest Is Fun in Any Weather

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Latin Fest Is Fun in Any Weather

Article excerpt

Byline: Tamara McClaran

When it rains during Fiesta Playera, the Beaches festival that celebrates Latin culture, it doesn't mean the party's over. It just means festival-goers may end up doing the doing the macarena in the mud.

"Like always, we hope for good weather," said Victor Cora, founder and organizer of the festival.

Fiesta Playera is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with Saturday's annual festival at the SeaWalk Pavilion in downtown Jacksonville Beach.

Cora estimates about 75,000 people attended last year's festival. He predicts a bright forecast for this year's festival, as well as the decade ahead.

"The community has embraced Fiesta Playera," Cora said. "I am so satisfied to see the festival grow and reach this level of respect. Fiesta Playera has become a signature event."

Despite a downpour its first year in 1995, about 2,500 people showed up for the festival at Mayport Naval Station. Cora, who was then a lieutenant in the Navy, had been asked to serve on a Hispanic committee at the base and produce an event to showcase Latin culture. Cora said the first year's success convinced Jacksonville Beach to support the festival, which was renamed Fiesta Playera the next year.

Saturday's event will feature more acts than ever before and a mix of Latin music and Latin-flavored acts. They'll include Puerto Rican salsa artist Hector Tricoche, Ciclon Vallenato, Domenic, Don Dinero and Luisito Carrion. The festival also features food and children's activities. Cora said Fiesta Playera is a family-friendly environment.

"This is a G-rated event," he said. "You can bring toddlers to grandmothers here. There is something for everyone."

Fiesta Playera concludes with the annual backwards walk into the ocean in honor of St. John the Baptist. The tradition, which is supposed to signify a cleansing of the spirit for the coming year, usually takes place at midnight. …

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