Expo Latino could be this summer’s best bargain

Looking for a way to beat the global recession? The city’s second biggest summer musical fiesta Expo Latino offers Folk Fest-quality entertainment at a Lilac Fest price. This weekend Calgarians of all ages and persuasions are invited to experience the 12th installment of this spicy celebration of Latin music food and dance. Aimed at representing the richness and diversity of our city’s Latino community this highly touted annual event promises to bring the dog days of summer to life in an explosive burst of colour and culture.

“We thought it was very important to expand what we offer due to the recession” explains Expo Latino’s communications and production co-ordinator Savannah Hall. “Many people are spending their vacation time closer to home so instead of paying thousands of dollars to travel abroad we have brought abroad to them. We wanted to make this experience as accessible as possible to people during these hard times so we have lowered our ticket costs — $15 gets you a weekend pass and $10 gets you in for the day. Children under 12 and seniors over 60 get in free so the whole family can come down and it won’t break the bank.”

Boasting the festival’s most impressive array of performers to date Expo Latino’s mainstage lineup for 2009 includes the likes of reggae-fusion artist Huey Dunbar Wil Campa Chile’s Juana Fe El Salvador’s Hermanos Flores and the Tekila Band. With such a bevy of talent behind them organizers like Hall can’t help but take pride in the role they have taken in bringing Hispanic artists into the Canadian spotlight.

“All our performers are significant to Expo Latino because they all represent something different from the Latino world” Hall says. “There are 21 Spanish-speaking countries in the world and we try to showcase all of them in one weekend. Juana Fe is very interesting because they represent the lower classes found in Chile whether it’s the poor street vendors or working women. Their passion lies in the social change they want to see in their country and their rise to success is a true testament to that. This is significant to Expo Latino because in some small way we are helping them break into North America and hopefully adding to that success.”

Estimating that there are 15000 Latinos in Calgary mostly from Chile Central America Columbia Venezuela and Mexico Hall believes the impact of Expo Latino will continue to grow as the community forges new relationships within our city and beyond. With some 300 performers slated to entertain the masses at Prince’s Island Park andwith demonstrations of everything from salsaerobics to capoeira Expo Latino plans to deliver a visual spectacle to match its famous musical offerings.

“Art transcends barriers because every culture expresses them through art” Hall affirms. “We have a great line-up this year with international national and local artists coming together and are going to give a great show. This festival is a celebration of everything that is good in the Latino culture so we welcome people to come on down and learn some new things the media may overlook.”