EDINBURG — There’s few events that can boast a lineup quite as diverse as UTRGV’s Festival of International Books and Arts.
This year’s FESTIBA, which kicks of Saturday in Edinburg, will feature world-class pianists, New York poets, flamenco performances and even a farmers market.
“FESTIBA is a wonderful opportunity not only to promote literacy and to celebrate the culture of arts, but it just brings together the Valley,” said Dahlia Guerra, UTRGV assistant vice president for public art & special projects. “What I’m most passionate about is the opportunity that we have given the students, to see the United States but to do it in a way that they’re empowered through their culture.”
According to Guerra, the theme of this year’s FESTIBA is “Building a Better World.”
“We’re talking about promoting and inspiring education for sustainable development. We have quite a diverse panel of experts,” she said.
In keeping with the theme, much of FESTIBA is geared toward promoting ecological and agricultural sustainability.
“On Monday we start with a sustainable food day, we have a farmers market at the university, a sampling of seasonal and native vegetables,” Guerra said. “Presentations later that day in the student union are all about sustainable farming, food systems and that sort of thing, so that’s an exciting new development for FESTIBA, we’ve never had a farmers market promoting healthy food.”
Experts set to discuss sustainability and healthy living at the symposium include agriculture professors, vegan food pundits and the university’s chief sustainability officer.
“There’s an incredible variety of different disciplines and guest speakers, guest artists and art exhibits,” Guerra said.
FESTIBA’s mariachi festival, which brings together over 600 Valley mariachi students, will be held the last two days of the symposium, Feb. 28 and 29.
“Mariachis come together to compete on Saturday, and the winner gets to perform a concert that evening with the Mariachi Sol de Mexico,” Guerra said. “It’s such a wonderful educational tool. It’s such a great way to empower our students with their culture, and with pride in their heritage.”
Despite the variety of acts, discussions and art on display, Guerra said that FESTIBA is still devoted to its core mission: literacy.
“It is basically a celebration of arts and humanities, but above all our main mission is to promote literacy,” she said. “Every year we have an international book discussion in collaboration with the Edinburg library, and there’s kids that get together from Edinburg and Reynosa. They study a particular book and then they get together to discuss the book and just to talk to each other. I think that’s a lovely program.”
Guerra says she’s excited for the RGV to see what’s in store at this year’s symposium.
“We bring the world to the Valley. We bring the world to our community,” she said.
FESTIBA will run from Feb. 22-29. A full schedule of events and more information on the symposium is available at https://www.utrgv.edu/festiba/index.htm.