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Great Vegas events

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By Optic Editorial Board

Last year, the bottom almost fell out of a big mariachi conference for youth when, just three weeks before it was scheduled to begin, organizers discovered that Santa Fe would not be able to host the event. So Memorial Middle School band director Martin Sena, a skilled mariachi performer in his own right, volunteered to bring it all to Las Vegas. The result was a rousing success.

So successful, as a matter of fact, that the event was brought back this year, with students participating in a three-day conference at Highlands University. Students from both Las Vegas school districts, Mora, Pecos, Santa Fe, Taos, Albuquerque and even a few Texans got in on mariachi sessions for intermediate and advanced students led by the professional group Mariachi Tenampae. The conference culminated in a Friday night performance at Memorial Middle School that included all 130 students.

Maricela Hidalgo, Casa de Cultura, Highlands University, and many others should be credited with having pulled off another exceptional event. What’s even better is that the conference will likely return to Las Vegas next year and for years to come.

This is precisely the kind of event Las Vegas is good at. We have the facilities, the culture, the dedication and the enthusiasm to make a mariachi conference work. It’s great to see this event find a home in Las Vegas, and the entire city should support it. Our community is helping to educate young people both musically and culturally.

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Soon, there will be another cultural celebration worthy of broad community support. On March 26, Ilfeld Auditorium will again be filled for the Fiesta de la Hispanidad. This will be the 17th annual event, and will feature, as always, a whole lot of local talent — singers, dancers, musical groups and more.

The benefits to this Fiesta de la Hispanidad are wide-ranging. It celebrates our hometown and culture. It praises young people, for there are many who take the stage to show off their budding talents. And it’s a real treat for those who attend. In many ways, it’s like a big family talent show, performed in front of a friendly, welcoming, supportive audience that genuinely appreciates the work that went into each performance.

If you want to perform, all it takes is a simple phone call to the kindest emcee you’ll ever encounter, Sara Harris, at 454-0438. But hurry, the deadline to sign up is this Thursday.

And if you have never attended, please try to do so. The community prides itself in its support of the arts, and this is one that strikes at the core of our being. Attend and you won’t regret it.