The California State Fair held its inaugural youth mariachi competition Sunday, July 22, inviting 10 teams from all across the state to showcase the “Best of California.”
San Fernando’s Mariachi Tesoro won the competition that included a $5,000 cash prize and the honor of playing with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán during their concert on the Golden 1 Stage to a sold out crowd. Mariachi Vargas is considered one of the most esteemed groups in the world.
Mariachi Tesoro is made up of area students from San Fernando middle and high schools who participate in the Mariachi Master Apprentice Program (MMAP). In this unique program, the students are taught by master musicians who are members of the professional group Los Camperos. The students learn both cultural traditions as well as musicianship that emphasizes formal training, reading music and stage performance.
“When a mariachi puts on the traje (suit), it means something,” master teacher Sergio “Checo” Alonso, has said. “When I wear the traje on stage with my students, we are all Mariachis.”
The program also emphasizes higher education, and features many college bound students and those who have graduated from college who were participants in the MMAP program.
While in Sacramento, the students also visited the state capitol.
Second place and a $3,000 prize was awarded to Mariachi Chavez Juvenil (San Joaquin County), and third place and a $2,000 prize was awarded to Mariachi Juvenil de San Diego (San Diego County)
“[We will] celebrate the rich tradition of mariachi music that has helped weave the social and cultural tapestry of California,” the state fair organizers said. “The California State Fair seeks to continue that legacy.”
For more information, including how to participate next year, email YouthMariachiComp@CaliforniaStateFair.com.