Festival celebrating Tucson’s Chicano culture returns this weekend 

Ellia Pannier, El Inde Arizona

A low rider car show like this one from last year’s festival is part of Chicano Vibez at the MSA Annex this weekend. Courtesy Damian Becerra via Arianna Luna

The Chicano Vibez festival celebrating Tucson’s distinctive Chicano culture with cars, cuisine, fashion, renowned artists and more returns to the MSA Annext this weekend.

The festival, coming on the final weekend of Hispanic Heritage Month,  is from 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, and 1-9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15,  at the MSA Annex,  267 S. Avenida del Convento, off West Congress and Interstate 10. The festival in its second year expands to two days, featuring vendors and entertainment for the whole family. 

“I was actually shocked at how successful it was last year, I was not expecting that whatsoever,” said MSA businesswoman Arianna Luna, who created Chicano Vibez to celebrate Chicano culture and promote Chicano-owned businesses. “That’s what geared me to do it even better this year.” 

The festival returns with over 50 vendors and a two-day lineup of performances including Chicano and indigenous artists. Barrio Books, La Indita and Mi Corazón de México are among the businesses that will be participating.  

Luna sees the festival as an opportunity to introduce Mexican American culture into the Annex, part of the Mercado District shopping and dining complex that has several restaurants and locally owned shops. 

Some Chicano vibes include a car show, breakdancing performances, mariachi folklorico, active art displays, arcade games, a fashion show, and live music from local and big-name performers including hip-hop artist Reverie.

Attendance is free, with the exception of Saturday night’s Grupo Metál concert. Grammy-winning guitarist Chris Perez, the husband of the late Latin pop singer Selena, is part of the band, which will perform at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 at the door, $35 in advance through from the chicanovibez.com, where Grupo Metál fans can purchase meet and greet tickets. 

The festival also will have a variety of resources and outreach programs for the Chicano community including Mi Familia Vota, Amistades, Chicanos por la Causa and the Lapan Sunshine Foundation.

A high school band in the Lapan Music Program will also perform during the festival, said CEO Jackie Lapan.  

“We’re always excited to partner and support this festival and the community that we serve, but we’re also excited to bring in new people to learn about our foundation and the work that we do,” Lapan said. 

Representatives from the University of Arizona Guerrero Student Center will be on hand talking about the university’s resources for Chicano and LatinX students. The center’s director Dominque Calza said the goal is to support LatinX, Hispanic and Chicano communities on campus. 

“I think a lot of the times when we talk about the Hispanic culture, everything tends to get really generalized and homogenized,” she explained. “This Chicano Vibez event is an opportunity to highlight the beauty, the resistance and the persistence of Chicano culture here in Tucson.”

Chicano Vibez takes place the same weekend as Tucson Meet Yourself, the annual folklife festival downtown that attracts 150,000 people each year. Luna said Chicano Vibez is collaborating with Tucson Meet Yourself this year to host a giveaway at the Saturday night concert. 

The Sun Link streetcar, which is free, runs from the Annex to downtown, connecting both events.        

El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

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