Viva Chile! 13th Annual Chileno Festival in Miami Kicks Off Saturday

We all know Miami is an ethnic melting pot, full of culture and cuisine from regions around the world. Fortunately for us, this city is always game for a festival to celebrate these rich traditions. This month, it's Chile's turn in the spotlight when the Chileno Festival gets started September 20.

The 13th Annual Chileno Festival is a family festival in which the Chilean community celebrates the 2004 Independence of Chile. Started by the owners of Chilean restaurant Sabores Chilenos, Ingrid and Pierre Encina, the festival includes various Chilean bands, artists, folklorists, and more. The couple wanted to bring a piece of their home back to Miami.

We spoke with the organizers about what to expect at this year's celebration.

See also: Flamenco Festival's Celia Fonta: "Flamenco 'Alante' is an Endangered Art"

New Times: Who will be at the festival this year?

Pierre Encina: This year we have invited Christian y su orchestra. As a child, the young Chilean grew up in this country and made it big and is well recognized through the television show, Sabado Gigante. He formed his own orchestra of Latin dance music. We also invited a Miguel Boce impersonator, who is a big Chileamn singer. Ammy Amoret, the name of a Chilean solo artist that started in Mexico and brought her music to Miami will also be in attendance and promises to not let attendees down. We will also enjoy Tonada Chilean music and jazz. Besides these talented groups there will also be local folkloric groups, folk solo artists, children's folk groups, and many more.

What kinds of activities will be held?

We will have a children's soccer tournament for boys and girls. There will also be a Ping-Pong competition, Taka Taka, and Rayuela, which are typical Chilean games. Guests who attend the festival will be spoiled by food stands, Chilean arts and Chilean crafts. Guests will also be enlightened to know that a midnight dance party until will take place until 2 A.M. Another key part of the festival will include traditional Chilean dances and competitions.

Can you explain a little bit about the history of the Chilean Festival and how it has changed in the last 13 years?

It started off with the mission of bringing artist from Chile and to gather the most amount of people around traditional Chilean customs. We saw growth in the festival because we were able to interact with all of the Miami-Dade community. People whom were not predominantly Chilean were interested in knowing a little more about Chile through the festival whether it'd be through the folk music, food, games, or traditions. The first three years the event was held in a ranch around, the "Horse Country" region of Miami, and the following five years, the festival was relocated to the infamous Miami-Dade Youth Fair. Now the Chilean festival is located in the German-American club.

Tell us about the past festivals. Who you have brought to the States?

Through the Chilean Festival stage there have been great artist recognized like, Miriam Hernandez, the legendary Chilean bands like, Los Jaivas , Lucho Barrio, and Los Chanchos en piedra. To that list we can add comics and presenters recognized in Chilean television. Furthermore, Folk groups like, Monte Aljuilino, have been a part of the festival, but also many other Chilean folklorists that reside in Miami.

For us, the festival is a form of representing Chile in the exterior. Through all that we have accomplished we are bringing a wider demographic to the festival and more cultures have came to help celebrate this glorious festival.

It is the only gathering that takes place in open air that brings families together through our Chilean customs, traditions, foods, and entertainment.

What does this Chilean festival say about Hispanics in Miami? What does it say about the Miami community as a whole?

We think Miami is a conjunction of cultures and that living in this city permits us to familiarize with the world through the different communities and to be able to share different traditions.

The 13th Annual Chileno Festival will be held Saturday, September 20 from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday, September 21 from 2 to 10 p.m. at the German-American Club on 11919 SW 56th St., Miami. Admission to the festival is, $20 for adults and children under 10 get complimentary entry. There is complimentary parking with paid admission.

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Andrew Ensenat
Contact: Andrew Ensenat

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