In just a few weeks time, the annual Carnaval on the Mile will return to the streets of Coral Gables for another year of arts and music. Celebrating its 16th anniversary, the two-day event will host over 150 visual artists and some 30 musical groups this March 1 and 2.
What started primarily as a small music festival catering to local tastes soon grew to incorporate the arts. And now with over 100,000 guests attending each year, the Carnaval stretches for blocks and blocks along Miracle Mile, featuring paintings, sculptures, food trucks, interactive activities, and live music stages.
"Miami people like to dance," co-festival director Carlos Garcia laughs. "So we try to bring music that's going to keep everybody moving and grooving."
As director of Sound Theory Live, a local Miami radio show that originally started five years ago under 88.9 FM WDNA and is now a part of Wynwood Radio, Garcia has developed quite the portfolio of achievements over the years. His name is essentially stamped on some of Miami's most eclectic music hot spots. Ever been to downtown's The Stage? Yeah, that's his doing too.
"Tom Flacon and myself we're the ones that have been behind the music for a while," Garcia says. "We've been doing Carnaval on the Mile since its inception."
Some of this year's musical vibes come courtesy of acts like Israel's Asaf Avidan, NYC's Black Violin and Pedrito Martinez, as well as Brooklyn's Red Baraat, Atlanta's Stokeswood, and nearly three dozen others. With three stages, Carnaval-goers can expect to hear sounds from five different continents, ranging from blues to Latin jazz, pop rock, funk, cumbia and more.
"We try to keep it upbeat," Garcia says. "You won't see a lot punk or hard rock or anything like that at these kinds of shows, but you'll see some really fun acts that keep a nice up-tempo feel."
Carnaval on the Mile's 2014 Lineup
-Locos Por Juana
-Spam All Stars
-The Problem Kids
-Shamarr Allen & The Underdawgs
-People You Know
-Batuke Samba Funk
-David Fernandez Quintet
-The Big Tasty
-The Mann Sisters
Together with Garcia and Falcon, Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, a local chapter of the global non-profit organization Kiwanis International, organizes Carnaval on the Mile as well.
"Its mission is to enhance the lives of the youth and community by giving them opportunities to do things outside of their neighborhoods," Garcia explains.
"We put on these events and they generate dollars from sponsorships and certain sales of products throughout the day of the show," Garcia adds.
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"We feel we have to spend the money on our talent to really put on a good show and attract the crowd to come see something different that you can't see anywhere else."
Carnaval on the Mile 2014. Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2. Miracle Mile, Ponce de Leon Blvd. and Le Jeune Rd., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Visit carnavalmiami.com.
Follow Alex Silva on Twitter @Silvasgoldd.