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Flamenco Festival Gives Brownsville a Taste of Spain

Young flamenco dancers entertaining the crowd during the festival. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

Some of Spain cultural heritage like its music and food left an impression in Brownsville early this month.

That’s because flamenco dancing and paella highlighted the first annual Brownsville International Flamenco Festival on Dec. 7-8.

Solo and dance teams from Allegro Ballet of Brownsville and from Mexico showed their skills during the two day event, held at Casa Carlotta K. Petrina Cultural Center and Market Square.

The festival was the first hosted by the Brownsville Society for the Performing Arts.

There was also a paella cooking contest in which five chefs competed for the best dish cooked in a large pan designed for such a meal native to Spain.

The winner was Enrique Espinoza, a chef at Half Moon Saloon.

“We took first place among five cooks,” he said after the prizes were awarded. “I am pretty glad for this distinction.”

The festival was well received by many of the 200 or more people attending it.

“This is quite a beautiful event,” Rachel Perez, a retired school teacher, said. “My husband’s (Arturo) family are from Spain and the dances we watched and the paella we sampled were second to none.”

She said she had been looking for the organizers to congratulate them.

Brownsville resident Laura Lucio said she did not know this city has such activities.

“I just found out because my son plays the guitar,” she said. “I really enjoyed being here.”

Ben Neece, a musician and city commissioner, said he wanted to thank everybody for attending the first BIFF.

“It was a success,” he said. “This the first time we have it and look at this crowd.”

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