Grays Harbor College will host dancing and music Friday as the college celebrates Latin culture with Fiesta en el Puerto (“Party in the Port”).
The free two-day event will feature dancing by Bailadores de Bronce and music from Mariachi Colima, Super Sones and Ritmo Ardiente. Performances will be held at the Bishop Center, while other activities and booths will be staged in front of the Spellman Library.
College Vice President Jennifer Alt said this is the first in what she hopes will be a biennnial series of culturally focused events.
“We normally don’t do anything over the summer because the summer musical happens every year,” she said, “but our new drama instructor is looking at doing a musical every other year, so this summer it left us with no programming.”
The college applied for and received a $15,000 grant from the Marion J. Weatherwax Foundation to put on this event and allow free admission. “It might be something we revisit every other year when there’s not a musical happening in Bishop,” said Alt.
The festivities start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday with Bailadores de Bronce, a Seattle-based troupe of about 22 people who will perform dances from different Latin American countries.
On Saturday, Mariachi Colima will kick things off at noon with their interpretations of traditional Mexican music.
Cumbia band Ritmo Ardiente will perform next, with up-tempo songs that blend styles from various Latin cultures.
After that, Super Sones will take the stage. This seven-piece band plays acoustic dance music from the Cuban countryside and pulls influences from modern salsa music.
Each of the three Saturday acts will then play another set later in the afternoon so patrons have a better chance of hearing each band regardless of when they show up.
Alt said the school has put on other events to celebrate different cultures, but said the music brings a new element to the affair. “This, to my knowledge, is the first time we’ve done a festival of this magnitude around cultural performers.”
The performances won’t be limited to music and dancing. A clown named Frijolito will be there to entertain children with balloon animals and other antics.
Alt is hoping for a big turnout.
“Part of the college’s core themes is service to community, and Bishop is a big part of that,” she said. “Making performances affordable and accessible for our community members has been the primary focus, so the community can experience the arts.”
With this event being the first of its kind for the school, Alt isn’t sure how many people to expect — but she is hoping for the best.
“We have no idea how many people are going to show up,” she said. “I hope it’s huge. I hope we don’t have enough food.”