As I shoveled snow earlier today, I remembered that the Feast of Saint Sebastian [Fiestas de San Sebastián] is well under way in Puerto Rico. The series of artistic, religious, educational, and recreational activities began on Thursday, January 13 and end on Sunday, January 16. Festivities include performances by 50 groups, including music, dance, and theater; a major art/craft fair with the participation of over 300 artists and artisans; a book fair; folkloric dancing, a children’s festival, parades, and non-stop music by leading artists including Andy Montañez, Manny Fuentes, and Edwin Clemente.
This year the festivities are dedicated to singer and composer Tito El Bambino, for his civic and cultural work, as well as his contributions to the island’s young people. El Bambino, whose real name is Efraín David Fines Nevares, has been involved in several causes promoting a healthy life free of drugs for young and old. He has been the spokesperson for the Alianza Para un Puerto Rico Libre de Drogas [Alliance for a Drug-Free Puerto Rico], the “Alto a la Violencia” [Stop the Violence] Campaign, as well as the “No Más Tiros al Aire” [No More Shots in the Air]. According to organizers, the award winning singer “has demonstrated his commitment to the quality of life of the country in his lyrics and compositions, always showing sensitivity and respect for all human beings.”
Three well-known songwriters of traditional folk (jíbaro) music—El Jíbaro (Andrés Jiménez), El Topo, and Tony Mapeyé— will receive National San Sebastián 2011 Award at a ceremony on Sunday at 3:00pm, at the Plaza del Quinto Centenario in Old San Juan. Other award recipients this year include Dr. José Vargas Vidot of Iniciativa Comunitaria [Community Initiative]; the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee; singer Humberto “Tito Nieves,” also known as the “Pavarotti of Salsa”; and Luis Maysonet, painter and engraver. According to the President of the Organizing Committee of this year’s festival, Luis Arroyo, the National San Sebastián Award is granted to individuals and institutions who have contributed to Puerto Rican arts and culture for over 25 years. The award presentation will be followed by a great event dedicated to Puerto Rican folk music and to Vicente Espinela—musician, poet and creator of the poetic décima (a traditional poetic form).
For full schedule of events, see http://www.primerahora.com/dedicanfiestasdelacallesansebastianatitoelbambino-461919.html