Music and Culture reign at 2004 Costa Maya Festival - Reina de la Costa Maya crown goes to Mexico

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 28            August 12, 2004

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Reina de la Costa Maya 2004/2005 Marisol Rojas Avila
Mexico wins Best National Costume
Pablo Montero poses for The Sun's camera backstage

The thirteenth annual International Costa Maya Festival had something for everyone – the young and the young-at-heart. From August 5th to 8th, the five Mundo Maya countries – Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and for the first time Costa Rica, came together to share and reinforce their cultural and friendly ties at this spectacular event.

    The 2004 festival came to life last Thursday and, as anticipated, hundreds gathered at the Old Football Field to witness the selection of the Reina de la Costa Maya 2004-2005. Co-hosting this grand event were Latin singer/actor Rafael Amaya and Mexican television personality Lilian Villanueva. The six lovely contestants made their first appearance on stage adorned in exotic traditional costumes during the "parade of nations." Next, came the sexy swimsuit competition, followed by the glamour of the evening gown competition and finally the question and answer session. During intermissions, the crowd was entertained by marvelous performances courtesy of the San Pedro Dance Company and Grupo de Danza Identidades of El Salvador. Prior to the announcement of the new queen, the reigning Miss Costa Maya, Leilah Pandy of Belize, made a final appearance on stage expressing her gratitude to the organizers, and especially to the people of San Pedro for providing all the love and support she needed to win Belize the title for the first time.

    The six contestants were all worthy of the crown but at the end of the evening, the distinguished panel of judges consisting of Wally Nuñez, Alexandra Nicholson, Wilema Gonzalez, Dr. Jeffrey Sersland, and Mert Bolukbasi voted Miss Marisol Rojas Avila of Mexico as the winner. The first-ever representative from Costa Rica, Shirley Calvo, was named first runner-up and Farah Evans of Belize City as second runner-up. Marisol Rojas Avila was also given the award for Best Costume, depicting the tradition of her native Yucatan. The festival goers then celebrated the crowning of the new Reina de la Costa Maya as they danced the night away to the sounds of "Tribals" High School Band. In an interview with The San Pedro Sun, Mexico’s Costa Maya Queen stated, "I am very happy and feel honored to have won the title. The Costa Maya Festival is indeed a very unique celebration that unites the various cultures of Central America and Mexico. I take home the hospitality of the people of San Pedro and Belize, their smiles, their kisses and their love. I hope to return to San Pedro very soon and visit with the wonderful people I have met here." This year, the pageant was filmed by a Mexican television station, Channel 51, who will rebroadcast the pageant in Mexico, Central America, and Miami in the United States.

    The festival continued on Friday evening with a grand cultural fiesta. During this extravaganza, the stage was filled with colorful and rhythmic presentations by the Marimba Band, the talented and gracious members of Grupo de Danza Identidades of El Salvador, Grupo Folklorico Chachaclun of Guatemala, Banda Ibanez of Honduras, and the grand debut of DNA (a local trio). Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the ladies of Las Nuevas Mexicanas were unable to perform.

    International Night, one of the most anticipated nights of the festival, took place Saturday, August 7th, as thousands of people arrived at the festival grounds early to ensure they had a good view of the festival headliner, Mexican Ranchero Pablo Montero. The evening was all about fun and excitement, and Mexican beers were flowing like water. Kudos must be given to Moctezuma Brewery for graciously manufacturing special Costa Maya 2004 Sol beer cans as a collector’s item for the festival. Spectators counted the minutes before the main event as they enjoyed presentations by the San Pedro Dance Company who highlighted Belize’s diverse culture with well-choreographed moves. Next, it was the Escuela de Danza de Quintana Roo who presented classical ballet with a touch of Mexican flair. Finally – showtime! The Mariachi Band made its way on stage, greeted by loud applause and cheers from the audience. The Mariachis immediately began to play, making the crowd even wilder. The introduction songs included a mix of Mexican classics such as "El Mariachi Loco Quiere Bailar" with some more modern songs such as "Mesa Que Mas Aplauda," which were accompanied by some very sensual moves. This was just the beginning of what was to be an excellent concert. The grand entrance of Pablo Montero, attired in the traditional "Traje de Charro," had fans "screaming their lungs out" as this gallant Mexican Ranchero hypnotized the crowd with his powerful voice. The non-stop, 90-minute concert included some of Pablo’s most popular hits including "Hay otra en tu lugar," "Gata Salvaje," and other romantic songs made famous by Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel. After an outstanding performance, Montero bid farewell to the still "hyped up" crowd, but not before sharing the stage with some of his fans. As always, the party continued, this time with the lively music of Sabor Bahia from Corozal Town who kept the party going until the wee hours of the morning.

    Those who still had some energy left from Saturday’s concert, once again congregated at the festival grounds on Sunday for the final night of festivities. More music and culture filled the grounds. The music of the popular "Tribals" High School Band, Sabor Bahia and cultural entertainment from Quintana Roo was the perfect ending to a magnificent festival.

    The International Costa Maya Festival 2004 was once again a resounding success thanks to the hard working members of the committee, the sponsors, and everyone who attended. The festival was indeed an event where cultural, musical and gastronomical diversity reigned. Thumbs up to everyone for a job well done!
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