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."
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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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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