A brief history of the Costa Maya Festival

Denyse Plummer "The Calypso Queen" and Grand Marshall of the 1992 Festival
It is time once again to come together and join in the fun of Belize's most awaited and festive event of the year - The International Costa Maya Festival. During these six days of festivities, Belize joins Mundo Maya neighboring countries El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico to put on a one of a kind show.

As we get ready to celebrate the eight years of this festival, we must not forget the hardworking team that came up with this bright idea. The 1992 Sea & Air Festival was created out of the imaginations of a few individuals.

Reigning Queen Astrid Ramirez and Belize hopeful Vanya Vasquez
In 1991, a chapter of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry was formed in San Pedro and John Edwards was elected Chairman. He and a few others such as Don Pearly, Kevin Gonzalez and Stuart "Taff" Elliott, formed the nucleus of the planning committee for the first event of this kind to take place on Ambergris Caye. They felt it was a natural function of a Chamber of Commerce - promoting business in a normally slow time of year. Don Pearly was chosen the Chairman of the Festival Committee. The committee consisted of the San Pedro Sun Bruce and Victoria Collins, Katie Brickey, Carlos Pariente, Eddie Halliday, Jack Westerhold, Ann McGlaun, Kevin Gonzalez, Santos Acosta, Don Pearly, Eli Pearly, John Edwards, Taff Elliott, Llewelyn Burgess and Alida Nuñez. The idea was a result of a group of persons from the community that were looking for a way to boost the economy in San Pedro during the "low season."

The Creole Gial was #1 at the cardboard boat races
After a trip to Honduras during Carmen & Jesus Castillo's wedding, some of the group members attended the Festival Folklorico of San Pedro Sula where Central American countries participated, with the exception of Belize. After careful planning, they came up with a festival inviting the Mundo Maya countries to gather in San Pedro to share their musical and cultural diversities. They were hoping to attract many visitors to the island, arriving by way of private air craft or sea vessel, thus making San Pedro a port of entry. They named this event The San Pedro International Sea & Air Festival. The first festival was held on July 21st - 26th, 1992 at the Roman Catholic Primary School grounds. The festival was a five-day event, as was the 1993 festival. A sixth day was added for the third festival in 1994, but the invited country did not show up. The festival proved to be very successful, bringing much needed income to the island. Each night of the festival was assigned to one of the visiting countries. During that night, the country being depicted displayed their finest in music, cultural dances and crafts. Every night was unique in its own way, attracting hundreds to the island. The first festival featured Denyse Plummer "The Calypso Queen"of Trinidad & Tobago as a headliner.

Folkloric dances are a key event at the festival
Every year the festival got bigger and better. During the morning of the festival dates, many events would happen at different locations in town. These would include: bicycle races, cardboard boat races, parades and much more. The organizers wanted to cater to all age groups, so they also introduced mechanical games for the youngsters. Eventually a new attraction was introduced: Miss Sea & Air Pageant. This event proved to be a favorite of many. Ms. Sylvia Castro of Mexico was the first Ms. Sea & Air Festival, starting a tradition of international contestants. In 1993, Ms. Diana Galvan of Guatemala won the title. In 1994, Tessie Duran Tonaco of San Pedro won the title; the first local to do so. Women from all over the world participated, including representatives from Central America, North America, Australia and Europe. As time passed the pageant was changed to Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant. This pageant requires each contestant be a title holder, making this event a first class pageant. In 1996, the first Reina de la Costa Maya Queen was crowned; she was the lovely representative from Mexico, Miss Maria del Socorro Retolaza. In 1997, the winner was Miss Carol Aquino from Guatemala and the reigning queen is Miss Astrid Ramirez, also from Guatemala.

Sea & Air Queen 1995 Miss Patty Arceo
Today, the festival has gained international exposure through great entertainment from international performers of the Mayan Countries. To give you a taste of the wonderful performers, the following are some of the lively acts that have put many in the party mood: The Garifuna Kids, La Gran Banda, Los Ilegales, La Salsa Clave, Chico Flores, Los Malecates, Garibaldi, Los Phoenix, Santino's Messengers, Rene Alonzo and La Banda Lazzer, Paloma Martin and Los Galleros Mariachis, Los Gatos Bravos and Andy Palacio. This year the festival will also give an opportunity for the public to meet renown Soap Opera star, Mauricio Islas, who will be the official host of the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant.

The festival has gained international recognition and is organized every year by a dynamic and hard working team. Their main goal is to make the community happy. This year the festival will once again feature great dancing groups, folkloric dances, kids entertainment, food and drinks galore and many surprises. We invite the general public to be a part of the huge festivities.

Welcome to the Eighth San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival.

A brief history of the Costa Maya Festival

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