San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Annual Southern Caribbean Music and Art Festival Opens Next Weekend

The annual Southern Caribbean Music and Art Festival will be celebrating its eighth year starting next weekend on the southern Caribbean coast. The event, held over three weekends March 24 to April 8, features a wide variety of Latin and Afro-Caribbean music, dance and art.

This year, the festival theme is “A Tribute to Salsa,” with a slate of the country’s top musicians giving concerts on Friday and Saturday nights during the festival.

Featured groups include salsa groups Incendiaria, Son de Tikizia and Azul Silencio.

Also on the marquee are: Amarillo, Cian y Magenta, with its alternative jazz stylings; longtime favorites Cantoamérica, playing original songs from the Caribbean such as calypso by renowned Cahuita musician Walter Ferguson; Pushin’with Jahricio and JUva, offering ska reggae, a modern variation of reggae with a rap or hip-hop beat; and Afro-Caribbean and trova musician Luis Angel Castro, one of the original artists from the first festival.

In addition to live concerts, evenings will include artistic presentations of poetry, dance, film, documentaries, theatrical presentations and storytelling. Children’s and adult workshops during the day will feature classes in Caribbean and modern dance, theatrical improvisations, voice workshops, Latin percussion, art classes and mask making.

Concluding the festival will be a children’s parade with youngsters wearing the masks they made at the workshop.

A wide variety of delicious Caribbean-style food will be available, including rice and beans cooked Caribbean style in coconut milk, chicken in Caribbean sauce, rondón (a fish stew cooked in coconut milk), patí (spicy meat pastries) and plantintá (plantain pastries).

Wanda Patterson of Playa Chiquita Lodge created the festival with a vision to provide a place for her children and others in the community to experience a rich tradition of music, dance and art from all over the world.

Although the Afro-Caribbean region has a vibrant and diverse cultural history, she felt there was no venue where one could really experience its full flavor.

“I still find it important to relate music styles to Afro-Caribbean music,” says Patterson, whose other festival themes have included calypso, reggae, world music (Celtic, mariachi), classical and jazz. “The festival is a celebration and has become a significant event in the community.”

Eddie Ryan, owner of La Costa de Papito hotel at Punta Cocles, agrees.

“It’s an important cultural effort with a unique presentation where we get to enjoy the arts, whether it be music or poetry,” he says. “It gets a very good local attendance.”

Laura Yusso, owner of three businesses in Puerto Viejo, says, “The Festival is fantastic. It brings a lot of good people to the town who come for the music.”

With an estimated turnout of 200 people per weekend, the festival is reaching a large cross-section of people from the area and, increasingly, from other parts of the country.

What began as a community event in Playa Chiquita has now gained international interest. Listings in Costa Rican guidebooks and travel Web sites are beginning to draw inquiries from groups wanting to include the festival in their tour itineraries.

“We’ve been getting e-mails since November asking about the festival,” Patterson says.

Patterson’s idea is to use proceeds from the festival to provide a cultural infrastructure for the children of the area. The festival has donated musical instruments to a local school’s music department, helped in the construction of a playground and has developed programs that benefit children.

For more information about the festival, visit or call Wanda Patterson at 750-0408.


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