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MidWest LatinoFest draws thousands to Promenade Park, with Yvonne and Grupo Fuego

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent


August 30, 2014: MidWest LatinoFest brought a big crowd from five states to Promenade Park in downtown Toledo on Saturday, August 30 for a variety of food, music, crafts, wares, children activities, and culture.

Family-oriented activities marked the afternoon start to the festival, with performances   by the Cleveland-based Grupo Tepehuani Nelli Aztec dance troupe and Sparks gymnastics team. The Toledo Zoo, Imagination Station, Toledo Museum of Art, Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center, and Home Depot set up crafts, displays, games, and activities for children and their parents alike—including face painting.

21-year old Brenda Aranda won the Selena look-alike contest and garnered $100. There were six other contestants: 8-year old Heaven Avila, 7-year old Adrianne Chasteen II, 6-year old Isabel Moore, 9-year old Reyna Olvera, 11-year old Salome Estrada, and Mary Guillen. A $500 La Prensa scholarship was also awarded to Devon González of Terra State Community College.


Lucas County Auditor Anita López was the recipient of the 4½-foot statute of the Virgin of Guadalupe, donated by El Aguila Bakery of Fremont, Ohio.  ¡Gracias El Aguila!


Father Juan Francisco Molina of SS Peter and Paul Church blessed the day and the event; special guests attended were recognized at 5:00PM including: Lourdes University President David Livingston, Lucas County Auditor Anita López, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp, and attorney Jay Feldstein (candidate for Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations Division).



“Things went very, very well and I thought successful, said Adrianne Kolasinski, co-chair of MidWest LatinoFest. “Everything came together nicely. The weather turned out not that bad as well.”


Mrs. Kolasinski credited the Aztec dance company and the Selena-related events (especially Yvonne and Grupo Fuego) for a large, enthusiastic crowd. She stated the festival committee will look at ticket sales to determine the actual attendance.


But a total crowd estimated at more than 3,500 came to listen to a diverse variety of music and entertainment, including DJ Javi of Rico Sounds and his brother Tony Rios of Voces Latinas TV.


Toledo-based Los Mariachis Locos, led by Jacob Estrada, opened the night’s musical entertainment. His daughter, Salome Estrada, was one of the Selena look-alike contestants. 


Bachata Flow traveled from Charlotte, NC, to share its unique blend of bachata and tropical music.


Radio Free Honduras from Chicago, often compared to Los Lobos with its combination of rock and folk tunes with a Latino flare, kept the crowd dancing well after the sun went down over the Maumee River. The band features the well-known work of Charlie Barán, a guitar virtuoso who has developed quite a following over the past 25 years, both on the Midwest music scene, as well as in his native Honduras.

Bachata Flow

In a word,…Yvonne and Grupo Fuego were fantastic!


Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra and Grupo Fuego of Toledo/Pontiac headlined the festival, first performing their own set list, followed by a tribute to Tejano music icon Selena Quintanilla Pérez.


“This festival was so much fun for us. We were playing at the end of the night and the energy kept building,” Yvonne said. “It’s like at a Mexican dance. When the sun goes down, I saw the crowd just get a little bit more on the dance floor. As the night went on, it just got bigger and bigger and bigger. It put a bit more pressure on us.”


“Looking out at the dance floor, it was just crazy seeing that many people crowded on it,” echoed Mrs. Kolasinski.


Yvonne admitted she was a bit nervous performing before such a large crowd, only having done so alongside her icon father—Rubén Ramos of La Familia—for a few numbers. But this was different, because she was front-and-center for the entire concert—and in front of her hometown audience.


“The butterflies get in your stomach and start small, then build. You can tell we’re getting close to show time,” she said. “

Ramos-Ybarra stated Grupo Fuego spent four months of special preparation for MidWest LatinoFest—learning Selena’s music, deciding on a set list, and practicing. According to the group’s manager Eddie Galán of Fostoria, the band even added an extra guitarist and keyboard player for the show. Mr. Galán and his son Eddie Jr. of Galán Sound also provided the lighting and sound for all the bands and musical events.

“We had to bring in reinforcements because her music is so intricate and we had to amp up our practices,”
Ms. Ramos-Ybarra said of Selena’s recordings. “While I’d love to do more Selena songs, I tend to steer away from her. I don’t want to become known as that singer who does Selena songs. Because every gig, so many Selena songs are requested. So we do a couple here and there to satisfy the crowd.”

But for one night, Yvonne stated she was honored to be asked to perform the music icon’s songs as a special tribute, because it’s something she’s always wanted to do.

Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra


“I got to get it out of my system,” she said with a laugh. “This time I felt a lot more pressure and I could feel the excitement. This time it was my voice, all night. That made it different.”


Yvonne thanked the organizers for asking Grupo Fuego to be part of the festival. She stated the Facebook and other social media response since their performance has been phenomenal—and she believes the band proved they’re just as good as some of the Texas-based musical acts that have been booked for past festivals—the audience agreed.


“It really was an honor—a huge honor—not only to be part of the festival, but to be asked to do the Selena tribute,” she said. “After we performed, I almost cried—from the energy and the excitement—there was almost nowhere for all of that emotion to go. I still feel like I’m on Cloud Nine.”


Gracias to all the tremendous musical talent and especially to Yvonne and Grupo Fuego.


Editor’s Note: MidWest LatinoFest is a collaboration by sponsors and partners; this year being: presenting sponsor Lourdes University, Tarta, First Fedral Bank, McDonalds, Corona, Spanish American Organization, La Prensa, TRE, Inc., Nuestra Gente, Toledo Free Press, 13abc, SGI Images, WBGU88.1fm, Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center, Imagination Station, Toledo Zoo, Toledo Museum of Art, The Home Depot, OLA, and Sparks.  ¡Gracias!


2014 MidWest LatinoFest Photos

Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/03/14 20:01:06 -0700.




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