ST. GEORGE — Radio station Juan 106 FM held their annual Festival de Juan on Saturday at Vernon Worthen Park in St. George to “integrate our community and celebrate culture.”
The event was held from 4 – 10 p.m., offering some of the best in Latino music, cultural dancing, and entertainment. Along with vendor booths and exotic cuisine, everyone found something to keep their spirits high and engaged.
This is the fifth year of the annual event. The event missed one year in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Juan 106 host Pedro Magdiel Lopez started the event in 2017 after coming up with the idea to show the variety of Hispanic culture and cuisine. However, he expressed interest in turning the event into “an integration of our community” with various cultures, including Native American, Asian, African American, English, and more.
“This is a good way to integrate the community,” Lopez said. “I believe combining forces of the radio station, the city, the police agencies, and businesses that actually care for the general community and all of the community into a mix of cultural celebration.”
After the pandemic shut down the festival in 2020, the 2021 event was mostly focused on providing the same experience but with the public’s safety and the city’s unity in mind. This year they focused on the integration of culture.
“Integration of the community is important,” Lopez said. “We need more people to get involved. We need more cultures to be part of it.”
The free admission event had a lineup of entertainment of popular and local bands, including Raza Obrera, Alta Elegancia, Kinto Norteño, Equipo Xclusivo, Jose Felix Hernandez, and Amy Lopez.
Raza Obrera has been around since the late 1990s, well known for being a “unique” blend of music by utilizing, at times, the musical instruments of harp, accordion, and charango. They are based out of Newark, California.
Alta Elegancia from New Jersey is an upcoming and newer band. They are popular with crowds of all ages..
Locals also performed, including Amy Lopez and Jose Felix Hernandez.
Attendees were enjoying the food, including tacos, enchiladas, burritos, posole, elotes, and more. Cotton candy was also available for the children.
Carnival-style games and recreational sports were available for everyone to enjoy. A favorite game was organized by the Snow Canyon High School “Latinos-in-action” student organization. The game is known as the “Chankla Game.”
Modeled after a cultural discipline consisting of a mother throwing a sandal at a misbehaving child, the game involved a set-up target of three mannequin-type heads, and the competitor will throw sandals to try and knock the heads over for prizes.
One attendee laughed and said his mother was real good at the Chankla Game.
Another vending booth that received a lot of visitors was the Utah Tech University Center for Inclusion and Belonging, run by the Student Organization of Latinos. They had a trivia game about the flags of Latino countries.
Several kids played futbol with bubbles, coin tosses, and more to win small to medium-value prizes. There also was a drawing open to adults of 18 and older. The prizes included gift cards for massages and more, and a grand prize was awarded of concert tickets to the X Tour 2022 with Luis Alfonso Partida “El Yaki” and Luis Angel “El Flaco” on Nov. 23 at the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas.
By 7 p.m., the park was flooded with festival-goers with music and dancing under the darkening skies. The event ended at 10 p.m.
The masses of multicultural festival goers included visitors from Las Vegas, Mesquite, parts of California, Mexico and Salt Lake City. Though it was dominantly Hispanic attendees, there was a good showing of others in the community. These fiesta celebrators found entertainment, laughs, and fun amongst a sea of people considered “familia” by culture and the integration of humanity.
Juan 106 FM co-host Suleyma Plancarte highlighted the need to be integrated with humanity.
“This festival really helps with the community. We are here to have fun and work just like everyone else,” Plancarte said. “Our community really likes to participate in a lot of different things, and so we really want to invite everyone to get to know us and get to know the culture… It is for the community.”
The event is in the works to be back next year with hopes of more community integration from multiple cultures.
Juan 106 is a Canyon Media radio station.
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