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First-Ever Sueños Music Fest Brings Celebration Of Reggaeton Downtown, Impressing Latino Chicagoans

South Side organizer Berto Aguayo said he never could've imagined celebrating Reggaeton music in Grant Park as a kid. "The fact that I'm here with my friends having a great time, it is a testament to how far we've come in accepting ... Latino culture."

Yovana Aliaga holds a sign as Sech performs during the second day of the inaugural Sueños Music Festival in Grant Park on May 29, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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DOWNTOWN — Grant Park rang out with Reggaeton music this weekend for the first-ever Sueños Fest, celebrating some of the hottest acts in Latin music.

Fans from across the country flocked to the two-day fest headlined by Reggaeton legends Wisin y Yandel, J Balvin, Myke Tower and Ozuna. And its focus on Latin music in Downtown’s crown-jewel park held a particular significance for Latino Chicagoans.

“I feel like they’re finally recognizing the Hispanic community – the Latin community – in Chicago,” said Martha Vallejo, who grew up in Pilsen. “… It feels awesome.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans film as Jhay Cortez performs during the second day of the inaugural Sueños Music Festival in Grant Park on May 29, 2022.

Vallejo has frequented many music fests in Chicago, but Sueños Fest was the first time she stood in Grant Park surrounded by fellow Latinos and cheering on Latino music acts.

Berto Aguayo, executive director of nonviolence nonprofit Increase the Peace, was in attendance Sunday, singing and dancing alongside friends. The fest, produced by the Lollapalooza and Baja Beach Fest teams, is proof the city is acknowledging the impact of Latinos, he said.

“As a young Latino from the South Side, we could never have a festival in Grant Park and Downtown to reflect our culture,” Aguayo said. “But the fact that I’m here with my friends having a great time, it is a testament to how far we’ve come in accepting Latinos and promoting Latino culture.”

“We are one third of the city[‘s population],” Aguayo said. “And the fact that we are filling up Grant Park, and celebrating our ancestors, celebrating our culture, celebrating our music – in such a peaceful, positive way – it’s just one of the ways that we can contribute to the city.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Dezirae, Miguel and Martha Vallejo dance and sing as Fuerza Regida.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Alex Ibarra holds a Colombian flag with friends while J Balvin headlines the second day of Sueños Music Festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
J Balvin closes out the festival.

The sense of community connectivity stretched out from the audience and onto the stage. Artists on Sunday engaged with the audience throughout the hot-and-sunny day to make sure fans had a safe experience.

Sech and Fuerza Regida stopped their performances multiple times to send help to those in need of water and support in the crowd.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Singer Jesús Ortiz Paz waves a Mexican flag as Fuerza Regida performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A fan hands Sech a painting as he performs.

At one point, a group of diehard fans gifted a painting to the Panamanian singer, which he received with a big smile and an embrace of the art piece as he continued singing. Fuerza Regida’s singer, Jesús Ortiz Paz, received a Mexican flag and donned it proudly as he sang.

Alongside the music were many Chicago-centered activations, from local restaurants to experiences.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
An order of vegan carne asada and al pastor tacos from Garfield Ridge vegan restaurant Healthy Substance is served during the second day of the festival.

Mariachi Sirenas, Chicago’s first all-women group of its kind, drew listeners in as they dined at the fest on Sunday.

Ibet Herrera, the mariachi’s co-founder, said her group was warmly welcomed by festival goers, some even joining in their performing of the late and great Vicente Fernández’s “El Rey.”

“People have loved it. We’re like, ‘It’s a Reggaeton fest – I don’t know if people are gonna dig mariachi,’ but we forget how much our culture is learning to appreciate our culture again,” Herrera said. “It reminds us why we do what we do.”

See more photos from Sunday at Sueños Music Festival:

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Wisin y Yandel perform.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans erupt in cheers as Fuerza Regida performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
J Balvin closes out the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Olga Serrano films as Fuerza Regida performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Chicago skyline stands out in the background as Lyanno performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Abe and Anabel snap a selfie during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Wendy and Jazmin dance as Fuerza Regida performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Mariachi Sirenas, an all-women mariachi group, takes a break for refreshments after performing during the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
J Balvin closes out the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Jessica Serrato dances as J Balvin headlines the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans pack the park as Jhay Cortez performs on Sunday.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Jhay Cortez performs during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans cheer and watch as Sech performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Wisin Y Yandel perform on Sunday.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Police officers in protective gear walk through the park during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Sech performs during the second day of the inaugural Sueños Music Festival in Grant Park on May 29, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A fan holds up his phone with a funny message during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans wait in line for security during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Chicago skyline reflects in Lyanno’s sunglasses.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans walk past a sign during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A fan cheers as Jhay Cortez performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans dance to a DJ playing El Alfa during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chicago Police set up barricades around the park.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fuerza Regida performs during the second day of the festival.

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