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Published: 6/13/2003

Good tunes, good times

BY TAHREE LANE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Emilio Navaira y Rio, winner of a 2003 Grammy award for best Tejano album, brings its Tex-Mex, country, and rock music to LatinoFest tomorrow in downtown Toledo's Promenade Park.

Emilio Navaira, the 39-year-old San Antonio singer/guitarist who goes by only his first name, loves creating good times. “When people are having a blast, it's a lot of fun,” he says.

After 16 albums and seven Grammy nominations, he was thrilled to win. “Finally!” he says.

Emlio's band is the headliner at the third LatinoFest, which celebrates music, art, and food from Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas.

Sharing vocals with Emilio is his brother, Raulito, 34, who adds spice with a trademark footwork routine.

“He's like a big old dancing bear,” Emilio says. “When they see a big boy dancing, it loosens up the crowd.”

Emilio, who has performed in Toledo several times, says his band will play a mixture of music tomorrow. “We're big ZZ Top fans. And the Eagles. One of the crowd favorites is `Hotel California,'” he says.

Emilio recorded a duet with the late Tejano star Selena on her 1993 “Selena Live” album. Tejano music was on the upswing in the early 1990s, but after Selena's murder, it seemed to cycle downward, he says. He plans to record his third country album this summer.

Tejano music grew out of Mexican conjunto music, which includes accordion, drum, horns, and the big, bajo sexto 12-string bass guitar, says Tony Rios, a LatinoFest planner. It developed in the 1970s and 1980s and uses electric keyboards and synthesizers.

In addition to music, LatinoFest will have a family-oriented arts tent, open until 5 p.m., with bark painting, Mexican picture bingo, and pinatas for children. It will also shelter a 12-by-9-foot mural titled Honoring the Farmworker, and art by Latino high school students. A few hundred children's bicycle helmets will be given away.

In an effort to educate, natives of the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Argentina, and Puerto Rico will provide information about their homelands.

Available for purchase will be fresh-fruit drinks and foods from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and Venezuela. Mexican-style helote will be sold. Helote is boiled corn covered with mayonnaise, chili powder, and white grated cheese, and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice.

Puerto Rican food will include roast pork, beef empanadas, and pastels, which are similar to tamales but stuffed with mashed green banana, chunks of pork, and garbanzo beans.

Dark and light Mexican beers and rum drinks will be sold.

People are invited to dress in traditional clothing for a 4:30 p.m. costume contest. At 6 p.m., Las Chicas & Company will perform several styles of traditional and contemporary Latin dance. And at 8:30 p.m., there will be a Raulito look-alike contest.

LatinoFest takes place from noon to 11 p.m. tomorrow in Promenade Park in downtown Toledo. Admission is $5 per person; children 12 and younger are admitted free. Information: 419-536-2146.



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