By Michael Koehn

La Paz, Mexico — Southern Baja recently got itself an impressive new cultural event with an ambitious new festival that opened in La Paz at the end of April and ran through the first week of May. The very first Tequila and Mariachi Festival, an 8-day extravaganza created and organized by Baja Communications Group, Baja Life Magazine and Baja Tours, commenced opening ceremonies on April 28th and concluded the week-long Festival on Cinco de Mayo with over 300 local families and international tourists celebrating on the pier to the music of mariachis “Los Arrieros” from Los Mochis and the local “Mariachi Garibaldi 2000.”

“This is the largest and most ambitious festival ever held in Baja”, said Erik Cutter, the publisher of Baja Life Magazine. “There are tequila festivals as well as mariachi festivals in Mexico, but nobody has really put the two of them together. Tequila and Mariachi is the true essence of Mexico and in our attempt to bring international attention to La Paz, it dawned on us that these elements are widely recognized in the international community as being “100% pure Mexico.” Thus it follows that tequila and mariachi create a rich cultural foundation for an annual festival.

We’re happy the way things turned out in this first-year attempt to internationalize the Fiestas de La Paz. We received many positive comments from visitors that came to La Paz to participate in this event. The tequila tastings were especially fun and educational and surprised many who thought they new everything about tequila. And for those who have never experienced the powerful, soaring music of mariachi, well, that they will not forget soon. Overall, there was very good energy and enthusiasm here in La Paz and many people are already talking about the upcoming festivals later this year in Los Cabos and Loreto.”

The Baja Communications team and Ramon Ascencio of Baja Tours not only put together a celebration honoring Mexico’s finest traditions of tequila and mariachi, but over the course of the week-long festival orchestrated a Baja photo exhibit, a “Mini-Bisbee” fishing competition for the children of La Paz (see separate story, click here), a series of intimate tequila tastings hosted by “Tequilero Extraordinaire” John Bragg of Cabo San Lucas, a “Taste of La Paz” celebration supported by local restaurants, a series of kayak races, plus a marathon that was held on the last day of the festival prior to the closing ceremonies.

The booming trumpets and sweet violins of Mariachi, performed by the talented nine-man ensemble “Los Arrieros” from Los Mochis, one of many groups playing at the festival, signaled the start of the celebration every evening just before sundown at the pier and along the malecon. As a variety of local and visiting musicians brought their rousing music to the stage under the stars, crowds found their way to the entertainment area where they were met by vendors who were offering samples of some of Mexico’s finest tequilas, including Herradura’s full line – from blanco to reposado to anejo.


For the more adventurous, Herradura and Don Julio tequilas were poured at the more intimate yet casual tequila tastings hosted during the week at four great venues including Bougainvilleas Restaurant, Tequila’s Bar and Grille, the Cortez Club and La Paz Lapa. John Bragg, the owner of Pancho’s in Cabo San Lucas and a renowned aficionado in the art of fine tequila appreciation, came to La Paz to educate and inspire guests interested in the fine points of tequila production, appreciation and it’s deep cultural roots in Mexico.

At each venue, local Pacenos, resident Americans and tourists gathered to hear John’s expert words before he guided them through a tasting session that included some of Herradura’s finest, in a range of styles and ages. This segment of the festival was particularly successful as it allowed local attendees to sample the fine spirits of Mexico in comfortable local settings along with fine food provided by each restaurant.


The Baja Foto Fest photography exhibit, sponsored by Foto La Paz, drew a lot attention at the pier with striking photos of Baja Sur in four different categories: people, places, fauna and flora. The big winner was Miguel Angel de la Cueva. For his contributions, Miguel received a prize of $500 US and a four-day/three-night vacation from Baja Tours.

Ramon Ascencio owner of Baja Tours in La Paz, and who is the Vice President of Promotions for the La Paz Hotel Association, was the point man on many of these events. “The Kayak Regatta was especially great,” Ramon said. “This event was attended by over 30 kids from Ciudad de los Niños, a local Foster Children Hostel that is managed by the Catholic Church. For many of these children, this was the first time they had ever seen a kayak. We also had the participation of the local varsity Paddling club and some Aero California Pilots that raced on the half-mile sprint. It was a day full of fun and laughter.

The DIF (Integral Development for the Families) Director was there and they received a donation of another 200 Mini-Bisbee t-shirts and $1,500 pesos (about $160 US) that was used to purchase weight belts for the drivers who deliver the Government free breakfast packages to the rural schools, each containing a quart of milk, high protein cookies and dehydrated cereal. They unload literally tons of boxes a day at the different ranches and rural schools. Some drivers were getting injured from lifting all the food packages and these belts were a big (and very much appreciated) surprise for them!”

“At the closing we had about 300 families and we ended the celebration with mariachis from Los Mochis and the Local La Paz Mariachi Garibaldi 2000. Everyone enjoyed lots of food and drinks. A family ambiance prevailed that was very symbolic of our concept of the Festival. We are all looking forward to next year’s event. Everyone was happy to see and hear new things were taking place in La Paz.”

Baja Communications Group and Baja Tours has established an exciting new cultural event in the capitol of Baja Sur. The festival will move to locations in Los Cabos and Loreto later in the year. For information on dates for future Tequila and Mariachi Festivals in Baja, please visit: http://www.vivatequila.com or http://www.bajatours.com.
































































copyright © 1996-2002 Baja Life Online. All rights reserved.