Mariachi Festival

The eighth annual Mariachi Festival & Competition at Bayside Park is about more than celebrating Mexican music and culture.

Organizers are working to introduce youngsters to the genre. 

“The purpose of the festival is youth development of arts and culture, with a focus on Mexican art and culture,” says Jacqueline Reynoso of the National City Chamber of Commerce. 

“Attendees of the festival can expect, too, to experience the sights, flavors and sounds of Mexico.”

This “taste of Mexico” will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 8, and features a full day of entertainment, competition, food and drink. 

Headlining the main stage is the world-renowned act Mariachi Angeles de Pepe Martinez Jr. 

“Mariachi Angeles de Pepe Martinez Jr. is a fairly new group on the mariachi scene,” says Martinez, who was a 25-year member of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. 

“The sound of the mariachi is deeply rooted in tradition and the style that made mariachi music popular all over the world,” he says. 

Martinez is best known for his charisma and impressive musicianship and vocals. His show will cover songs by the genre’s most-revered composers, including Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Juan Gabriel and Ruben Fuentes, as well as “mariachi music’s most beloved and legendary Don Pepe Martinez”—his father. 

The lineup also features Marina Saenz, who dazzled many last year, and student competitors in this year’s mariachi competition. They’ll compete in middle school, high school and university categories and perform for Martinez. The winning student groups will receive cash stipends and sponsorships. 

The second stage will feature a variety of showcase performers throughout the day.

While the event’s focus is mariachi, food takes center stage. Twelve vendors will sell refreshments, and those 21 and older can sip on local brews. More than 100 vendors and exhibitors will display their wares. 

In the family pavilion, children can partake in face painting, caricatures, arts and crafts and organized games. An inflatable rock-climbing wall and a petting zoo will be open during the festival in the pavilion.

The expanded Green Zone will provide opportunities to learn about environmental sustainability as the festival is becoming increasingly eco-friendly. This year, it’s completely Styrofoam-free and organizers are offering a bike valet service to encourage attendees to take clean transportation to and from the event.

Patrons are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets, as seating is limited.

Mariachi Festival & Competition, Bayside Park, 999 Bayside Parkway, Chula Vista, mariachifest.com, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 8, tickets start at $10; military and veterans with ID are admitted free.