ALBANY — The Albany Latin Festival on Aug. 26 will celebrate heritage, music and culture with a full day of family-friendly activities in Washington Park featuring a wide array of vendors, musicians, art and education.
“For over a quarter of a century, the ALFA (Albany Latin Festival Association) has brought to the Capital Region community excitement, joy, and dance through live music and its annual LatinFest celebration,” said Bronte Roman, a singer and secretary of ALFA.
Founder Pedro Diaz’s goal for the festival, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is for listeners throughout the entire day to enjoy live music.
“What’s great about this event is that there was music consistently,” said Roman. “That’s the concept he’s always had: People who attend will always hear music from beginning to end.”
From reggaeton to hip-hop to pop or rap, Latin Fest attendees will be treated to a vast range of genres.
“Our artists run from Latin salsa to jazz to rhythm and blues to hip-hop,” said Diaz. “They’re all Latin artists, and I wanted to highlight the contribution that Latin artists are making with regard to music in the Capital District.”
“I think what makes Latin Fest different is that the listener who isn’t familiar with all of these different genres will be blown away when they hear something so beautiful and authentic when it comes to the folklore style,” said Roman. “Then they’ll hear this samba reggaeton beat, then they’ll hear a Latin pop beat, all on one stage.”
Headlining the event is the Legacy Women, an all-women’s traditional musical group rooted in Afro-Dominican and Afro-Puerto Rican origins. Their original and traditional music and dancing capture the essence of the palos, congos, sarandunga and salves from the Dominican Republic, Afro-Dominican roots drum music, the bomba from Puerto Rico, and Afro-Boricua roots drum music.
“What’s going to be special about this year is that there are a lot of all-female bands,” noted Roman.
Fellow headliners are the Lulada Club, an all-female salsa band that mixes classical tropical salsa, boogaloo, bolero and cha cha cha music with the modern. The band, arranged by vocalist and band leader Andrea Chavarro, brings together a dynamic show designed to entertain everyone in the audience.
“The women include representatives from many different Latin countries,” said Diaz. “They all play a diverse presentation of music.”
The lineup of musicians also includes the Boricua Legends, prolific Puerto Rican musicians who have performed with the most acclaimed Latin artists. Local artists will also be taking the stage during the day of music.
The event will host a Kids Zone and vendors that offer Latin cuisine. Visitors to the free event are encouraged to take part in the crafts, arts and booths that make Latin Fest a signature festival to attend.
This year marks the 26th annual Latin Fest, but ALFA and Diaz’s mission to diversify local venues and bring exposure to Latin artists continues all year long.
“This is particularly critical and important for me personally, but also for the ALFA because these artists are not typically offered a local venue,” commented Diaz.
After personal research in 2015, he identified that out of all of the musical productions in the Tri-City area, Latin artists comprise less than 3 percent of the productions annually.
“I look at what’s happening now, eight years later, and it’s still the same. You don’t see many of our artists featured,” said Diaz. “The mission of our organization has always been to enhance the appreciation for multicultural diversity in the Capital District by exposing the diverse contributions of our Latino musical artists. That’s what we want to do.”
“Through the continued support of our sponsors and collaboration and partnerships with local venues and performance spaces, the ALFA will continue to maintain its commitment and support of Latin artists,” said Roman. “Not only musicians, but poets, comedians, and dancers, all creating greater exposure of the immense artistic talent within our communities, not just for one day but all year long.”
Diaz admitted that the work is full of challenges, but it is essential to make the mission of multicultural diversity happen on a large stage and for a wide, diverse audience. For the past 26 years, Latin Fest has been a testament to this goal.
“I ran across a statement that impressed me recently: ‘If your art is not seen or heard, it doesn’t exist,’” said Diaz. “It exists only in the minds and in the sight of us, the people who love it. But for the general population, if they don’t see or hear it, then it really doesn’t exist. That’s what I want to conquer.”
For information about the Albany Latin Festival, visit https://www.albanylatinfest.org.