¡Viva Puerto Rico! Festival Betances will livestream its annual celebration
Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción will livestream Festival Betances, the longest running Latino cultural festival in New England, on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday, July 18. The annual celebration is free and features performances by Andrés Jiménez “El Jíbaro” and Los Pleneros de Severo and will be emceed by actress and performer Millie Gil.
“We’ve had very long, dark months of uncertainty, of unprecedented times, of changing and upending our lives, our routines, our communities,” says IBA CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado. “I think we more than ever need to bring people together through the arts. We need to celebrate our heritage and our roots.”
This year’s festival theme and tagline is “Reconnecting to our Mainland: Puerto Rico,” and with the global reach of a virtual celebration, IBA will be able to do that physically as well as emotionally. Calderón-Rosado says one of the benefits of the livestream is that participants in Puerto Rico and in Latinx communities around the globe can attend and enjoy.
Performing from the shores of Puerto Rico will be Andrés Jiménez “El Jíbaro,” a well-known composer and performer of songs in the traditional folk style of the island. This year he’s commemorating 50 years as a performer and comes back to the festival to celebrate the anniversary with Boston. Los Pleneros de Severo is a Puerto Rican group known for their explosive and energetic music. This year Calderón-Rosado hopes they can get viewers dancing along in their living rooms.
Although the festival won’t have the usual in-person activities like the famous greased-pole competition and parade, Calderón-Rosado promises there are a few virtual surprises in store. Festivalgoers can participate during the celebration in a few ways. One is by entering a raffle for an original artwork by painter Saribelle Muñoz Bonilla. The raffle winner will be drawn on Monday, July 20.
Another way to participate physically is to purchase festival takeout food from the celebration’s local partner restaurant. Vejigantes, at a 10% discount. After all, what’s a Latinx celebration without empanadas? For those who would like to make their own refreshments, IBA is posting authentic recipes on their Facebook page as well.
After more than 50 years, even a pandemic can’t stop the vibrant music and uniting power of Festival Betances.
“We figured we owed it to our community to do a different version of it, but still have it so people can come and enjoy this tradition,” says Calderón-Rosado. “So I hope that people come with a renewed sense of community, with a smile on their faces and with the sense that we’re in this together.”