Thousands expected for annual FridaFest in Edinburg

Sofia Tijerina of McAllen dressed as Frida Kahalo during the Frida Fest Competition on Saturday, July 20, 2018, in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | dlopez@themonitor.com)

The city of Edinburg is expecting 6,000 people to attend its sixth annual FridaFest on Saturday, an event that honors the life and spirit of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

The event’s festivies will be accompanied by historical notes of her legacy, paying homage to Kahlo’s role in women’s empowerment. She was a daring feminist in the early 1900s, a time when feminism was not socially valued.

The free event will take place from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Edinburg City Hall Courtyard.

Local artists and crafters will have Frida-themed items for sale throughout the evening, while an all-female art exhibit by local artist, Eva Williamson will be on display in the city hall lobby. And, along with music and cultural dance performances, a theatrical skit by the EMA Community Theater is scheduled to perform.

Scattered throughout the area will be informative posters on Kahlo’s legacy as a female artist, discussing the hardships she went through and how she used her passion for art to portray her pain. At 6-years-old, Kahlo suffered from polio which crippled her right leg, and experienced a traumatic bus accident as a teenager, in which an iron handrail impaled her pelvis.

Magdiel Castle, the event coordinator, said that he hopes that attendees are inspired by Kahlo’s strength.

“We want to celebrate the life of Frida, how she declared her own independence and did so fearlessly,” said Castel, who is also the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library Cultural Arts Manager. “The festival itself attracts a lot of women. Men go, some dress as Frida, but mostly women, and we hope that they are inspired by her story.”

Castle’s favorite part of FridaFest is the Frida Look-alike contest, which has an adult and children’s category. A winner and runner-up will be selected from each category, and will receive a trophy at the end of the night.

“You see entire families dressed up like Frida: grandmothers, mother and daughters,” Castel, Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library Cultural Arts Manager, said. “You get a sense of independence when you learn, and even look like Frida — by her character and by the way she was who she was.

“She was a woman who did not let anyone tell her what to do. In 1920, women did not wear skirts, but she said ‘no one is going to tell me what to do;’ women then did not have short hair, but she said ‘I will cut my hair because no one tells me what to do.’”

A Frida Empowerment Panel including female community leaders will also take place. Striving to inspire young generations, panelists will discuss their own accomplishments and how they got there. Additionally, a braid and brow station will be available to help attendees look like Kahlo, who is most renowned for her self-portraits.

Following her drive to defy social norms, Kahlo often painted herself with a unibrow and moustache, a move to take ownership in her unfeme identity.

“The event is about independence and empowerment,” Castle said. “People should go because we celebrate the different roles women have — women who are mothers, women who are not mothers, those who work, who are managers, directors, everyone. And, because it’s fun.”