The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza was founded in 1995 with the mission of presenting outstanding mariachi artists, promoting mariachi education, and fomenting cultural pride and diversity in San Antonio. One of the most important events of its type in the world, the Extravaganza is the largest and longest-running mariachi music festival in Texas, and is known for presenting world-class artists locally. More than a dozen mariachi-related activities are held during this seven-day festival, culminating in a gala concert featuring the internationally renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. The event draws tourists from afar, generates positive local, regional and national publicity, and provides numerous opportunities for young artists.
Since its inception, the heart of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza has been Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán — unquestionably the most important ensemble in the history of mariachi music. For over half a century, this group has been considered the finest mariachi in the world (“el mejor mariachi del mundo”), a title it continues to uphold. Founded in 1898, in the southern Jalisco village of Tecalitlán, the band recently celebrated its 117th anniversary. No other mariachi in history has had a trajectory or influence remotely comparable to that of Vargas. Its current generation represents the state of the art in mariachi music: world-class vocalists and instrumentalists, flawless ensemble work, impeccable taste in arrangements and repertoire, and spellbinding showmanship—while at the same time preserving the traditional folk music of the group’s rural origin.
Each year, mariachi students flock to San Antonio from around the nation and other countries for the rare opportunity to hear, meet in person, and study directly with members of this legendary ensemble. Besides giving concerts and teaching workshops, Mariachi Vargas members adjudicate the largest and most competitive mariachi group and vocal competitions in the world, as well as an original songwriting competition.
The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza includes community events that honor and recognize groups, vocalists, musicians, and individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the mariachi music tradition. Many Extravaganza events are free, while others have an admission charge. All are accessible to the public and the disabled, and are held in a variety of San Antonio locations that include libraries, schools, college and university campuses, museums, public parks, community organizations, and theaters. An estimated 15,000 people will attend San Antonio’s 21st annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza from November 15-21, 2015. Of this number, over 1,000 mariachi students will participate in mariachi music workshops, performances, competitions, concerts, jam sessions, and other cultural events.
The Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza presents outstanding mariachi artists in dignified settings and promotes a positive image of Mexican culture. Many who were not previously fans of this music go away with a newfound appreciation for it. Stereotypes are broken, passions are fueled, and communities are enriched. This unique, family-oriented event is produced annually by San Antonio-based Muñoz Public Relations (MPR) in an effort to help build bridges of understanding among different cultures and countries.