Vallenato culture and folklore celebrated in Miami

About 200 people of different ages gathered at the Koubek Center in Miami on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Vallenato music and culture.

“La Leyenda Vallenata,” the Vallenata Legend, was the first event of its kind in Miami. It was organized by Fundación Vallenata U.S.A. and Puerta de Oro Colombia.

What would typically be a five-day festival was shortened into four hours to show people in Miami how the International Festival of Vallenato is in Colombia. Vallenato is a popular folk music primarily from Colombia’s Caribbean region.

Vallenato musician and actor Eibar Gutierrez led a discussion about its history.

“It’s satisfying for me to leave Colombia and find people wanting to learn and enjoy Vallenato music,” said Gutierrez in Spanish. “Vallenato was born of an African, Colombian indigenous and Spanish mixture, and what a better place to share its charms than here in Miami, a city full of different races and cultures.”

Two kings and a queen – a term used for winners of a contest – of Fundación Vallenata U.S.A. also performed on stage and showed their abilities with the accordion.

Infant Vallenato King José Liberato Villazón, 13, spoke about how he started playing accordion at 8. He perfected his techniques through academies and private tutors, which helped him win last year’s contest in Miami.

“I am very proud of this accomplishment,” Liberato said in Spanish. “Miami is a window to show the world the Colombian folklore. It allows Vallenato to be known in the United States and for Latinos to learn more about Colombia.”

Arts and crafts, storytelling and performances as well as dance and music workshops were part of the itinerary for the afternoon.

Kids had an artistic space where they could create a typical “sombrero vueltiao,” a turned hat, and color pages with images of the most distinctive instruments and traditional costumes of Vallenato music.

Yanelis Diaz, a mother and attendee, expressed her admiration for this kind of event and was surprised about the impact it had on her son.

“Events like these are what we need, dynamic, with activities for different ages so the family could share,” Diaz said. “I am not Colombian, but my blood is Latina, and I love to see my son enjoy other cultures.”