La Feria News

Nacho Estrada and Maclovio Visit the Valley

Special Performance at Harlingen Cultural Center

feature story and photos by Bill Keltner

Professional Ventriloquist Nacho Estrada with Maclovio

Professional Ventriloquist Nacho Estrada with Maclovio

To say that Harlingen native Nacho Estrada is a professional ventriloquist is an understatement. Estrada and his friends have been entertaining audiences from coast to coast at national teachers, principals, and educational conventions since his graduation from Harlingen High School in 1967.

His exceptional talent for the art of ventriloquism and his dedication to “teach children with humor and love” got him invited to present his unique show to schools, universities and television program in all states, whereupon he got more invitations.

This performer and his friend Maclovio put on an outstanding show last week for a private party at the Art and Cultural Center of the Harlingen Public Library. The show was emotional, hilarious and educational all at the same time. The retired, professional ventriloquist shared his personal story with LA FERIA NEWS. It is a fascinating and inspiring narrative.


Maclovio’s “No drugs and No bullying” show

Estrada said that his interest in ventriloquism and its potential for bringing joy and laughter to people began when he was a boy in school.

“There was a local salesman who practiced ventriloquism just for fun, who got me interested in the art,” he said. “I can’t remember his name, but he explained that the word ‘ventriloquist’ is derived from the Latin words venter and loqui, which mean ‘belly speaking” or ‘speaking from the belly.” He showed me the basics of using the diaphragm combined with the tongue to give the illusion of projecting the voice both far and near.”

“I was so excited that I decided to try it at school,” he said. Estrada digressed to confess that he had been known as the class clown before learning the art of projecting his voice. So, his next planned prank wasn’t that far out-of-character. The next day, he relates, he used the distant-voice technique .

“What I did was the next day during class, I made my voice sound as if it were coming from the public address system,” he said. “I simply called myself out of class–and to my amazement, it worked! And I was hooked: Later, I learned more about ventriloquism through correspondence courses, and then took it up professionally.”

Estrada combined his talent with his sincere interest in helping children and their teachers appreciate the importance of education, good moral values and how to respond to the world-wide plague of ‘bullying’ in the classroom. In his act he uses dolls like the “cranky old-man” and his star performer “Maclovio.” Most ventriloquists call their partners “dummies.” Maclovio, however, resents that term and demands to be called, “a Doll.”

Attentive crowd laughs and enjoys the show.

Attentive crowd laughs and enjoys the show.

The National Association of Ventriloquists recognized his outstanding talent at one of their national conventions by awarding him their top honor—“Ventriloquist of the Year.” Estrada was the first Hispanic to get that award.

Estrada also was accepted and trained to be the first Hispanic Ronald McDonald in the State of Texas. He loved the job of combining clowning and throwing his voice. He did it for seven years all over Texas.

“I love teaching and entertaining children,” he said. “My style of teaching involves a lot of humor and love–it is the best way to solve problems in school and at home.” he preaches, “plus, you’ve got to throw in a lot of hugs.”

“I remember clearly one little boy that came up to me after a show, who wanted a big hug from me and Maclovio,” he said. “As he left, he told me, ‘I’ve never had a hug from my father or mother in my life. That one really got to me,” he said.

Nacho Estrada now lives in San Antonio, but still has family in Harlingen. He is on record as “retired,” but still gets calls every week to come and present a show for a school somewhere. “ I guess as long as I can, I’ll try to get my message across to those who are as interested in education with humor and love as I am,” he said, as he packed up to go home to San Antonio with Maclovio and his friends.

For more information about Nacho and his friends, they are available at 210-626-1256 or visit them at You never know who will answer.

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