The biennial Celebración Artística de las Américas (CALA Festival) first celebrated the contributions of Latino heritage to our vibrant life in these Americas in the fall of 2011. A kind of rolling, virtual festival in spirit, it presented and helped sponsor plays, musical and dance events, art exhibits, food, food, food, and other cultural and educational treats here and there throughout Arizona over a period of several weeks, wrapping up, as it does this year, right around Día de Los Muertos. The CALA Alliance brings it on home once again during the coming week with an assortment of excitement, starting with CALA PHX! Fest on Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, in the area bounded by First, Adams, Third, and Monroe streets.
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It's a massive event with three stages of practically non-stop entertainment -- DJs, mariachis, folkloric dance, Caribbean steel and percussion, slam poetry, a chamber ensemble, salsa lessons, Latin jazz, big-name bands and bandleaders -- as well as musical performances Friday night at Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center (ALAC), a traditional masked procession, mercado, kids' area, food trucks, ofrendas and workshops (and Mass) at St. Mary's, and, por supuesto, a margarita garden. Admission is free -- food, drink, souvenirs, and VIP packages are available for purchase.
But the secret highlight, as far as I'm concerned, is Saturday's additional opportunity to see two plays you might have missed earlier this season performed at Herberger Theater Center: Teatro Bravo!'s Bless Me, Ultima, at 2 p.m., and New Carpa Theater Company's The Mighty Vandals, at 7:30 p.m. Vandals, fresh from a weekend tour to Miami, Arizona, where the true story began, is already "sold out" -- but since tickets are free, some folks may drop off the list, so it's worth a try. And it's not like there won't be a bajillion other fun things to do ten feet away if you can't get in.
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We frankly got a bit dizzy teasing out the official names of the events and sub-events and temporary stages of the 2013 CALA Festival and who's in charge of what. All you have to do is show up and have a wonderful time.
Once again, CALA PHX! Fest is free and runs from 5:30 p.m. until late-ish Friday, November 1, and 10 a.m. until, again, evening party time on Saturday, November 2. Click here to know all there is to know.