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October 30, 2013

Locals and Legends Entertain Thousands at Festival Cardenas: A Model For Community Enrichment through the Arts

Written by  Annabel Osberg
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Los Tigres del Norte Los Tigres del Norte Photo by Annabel Osberg

Many businesses talk about giving back to their communities. Cardenas Markets actually does so.  Every year, the San Bernardino County-based grocery chain thanks the community for its patronage by inviting them, gratis, to Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway to enjoy a day filled with music and food at “Festival Cardenas.”

Entering the seventh annual festival on Sunday, attendees were greeted by workers serving generous portions of traditional Mexican pastries from elaborate displays, including a Día de los Muertos altar; a Rosca de Reyes so large it spanned several tables; and a monstrous Halloween cake decorated to look like a graveyard. The grandiosity of the food offerings matched the caliber of the entertainment lineup, which transitioned from up-and-coming artists to some of the most illustrious stars in the regional Mexican music world.

A cartoonish singing rooster called “El Chichicuilote” opened the stage. Next up were: Torres Musical, an energetic norteño group comprised of siblings from Ontario; Daisy Sanchez, an elegant ranchera singer; and the popular banda singer El Chalinillo.

Between performers, local personalities made cameo appearances while “DJ Virtual” of San Bernardino threw hundreds of CD’s into the audience. There was never a boring moment.

Lunch was served in the form of large pieces of a 1,000-foot burrito created by Cardenas employees.

Headliners dominated the afternoon. Graciela Beltrán’s spectacular performance proved why many consider her “The Queen of Banda Music.” Roberto Tapia charmed audience members with a mix of his hit love ballads and narcocorridos.

The legendary Los Tigres del Norte concluded the festival, singing as many hits as possible from their 45-year career. Their dynamism was evident onstage in their creative rhythms, socially critical lyrics, and venerable bearing, making it easy to see why they remain at the top of their genre.

By five o’clock, I couldn’t believe eight hours had passed so quickly. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

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