Conjunto festival kicks off Friday in Los Fresnos

The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center 26th Annual Conjunto Festival will return this weekend for three days of music, dancing and food — this time in Los Fresnos.

The 17-band lineup will kick off 6 p.m. Friday at Los Fresnos Memorial Park with Brownsville’s Ramon Lució y Conjunto Dominante. Admission is $6 per day and free for children 6 and younger, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.

“It’s a place where people have made friends, will make friends, they’ll get to meet new people,” Rogelio Núñez, founder of the arts center, said. “The idea is, how do we become more of a fun thing but preserving a critical piece … (of) the Mexican-American community?”

Some of the festival highlights will be performances Friday by Chano Cadena y Su Conjunto, who has been playing for 64 years, and Saturday by the Grammy-winning Max Baca & The Tex Maniacs of San Antonio.

Conjunto Halcón, the more than 100-member ensemble from Los Fresnos will open Saturday’s performances at 4 p.m., Ruben Garza y La Nueva Era will close out the festival Sunday evening.

“We still have maintained that tradition, which is Narciso’s style on the border,” Núñez said.

The festival is moving from San Benito, where Narciso Martinez created the genre in 1935 and where the arts center is located. Núñez said the change is due to city government bureaucracy but noted conjunto is a mobile music with popularity around the world.

“Folks the trip back from Illinois. I’ve gotten calls from Houston, New Mexico, Colorado, California – people coming back to the Valley,” he said. “That’s the unique part of the music. It travels and it has traveled and it continues to.”

Get the full lineup and more information at www.facebook.com/nmcacsb.