One of the most heartfelt moments of the 2021 Great New York State Fair will play out at Latino Village, when a Hurricane Maria survivor performs with the bandmate who helped him build a new life in Syracuse. Latino Village, a festival of music, art, and food celebrating the many cultures of New York State, will take place on the Fair’s final three days, Sept. 3 - 6.
The band Orquesta 2Face was formed in December 2020, when Zaki Malave and Tony Rivas joined forces to share their love of music with the world. The two worked together for many years in a Merengue band in Puerto Rico called Zafra Negra. Rivas was already living in Syracuse when he learned Malave lost everything as Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Rivas offered his friend a place to stay in Central New York and helped him find work until Malave could get back on his feet.
For their first performance in the United States, the singers have added band instruments to cover more genres of music. They’ll be performing plena, bomba, bachata, salsa, and merengue on the Youth Building Talent Showcase Stage at 8 p.m. on September 4.
“The New York State Fair is one of the most important fairs in the United States. It's not just a festival, it’s the Great New York State Fair! It's an honor to debut at the Latino Village,” said Rivas.
“I want this space to allow people with Latino roots to close their eyes, listen to the music, smell the food, and feel like we’re getting a taste of home,” explained Elisa Morales, Superintendent of the Latino Village. “I also want to share some special parts of our community with people who come from different backgrounds.”
“We’ve made a commitment to giving people from different cultures an opportunity to showcase some of the special ways they’ve enhanced life for everyone in New York State,” added Fair Director Troy Waffner. “The Latino Village joins the Indian Village and the Van Robinson Pan-African Village for a great multi-cultural experience at the Fair.”
The Fair also marks a special moment for a group of female singers based in Rochester, who were forced to delay their debut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of Ellas make their first Fair appearance at 8 p.m. on September 6. With roots in Puerto Rico, Chile, Miami, and Rochester, the women combine upbeat Latin percussion sounds with melodic piano and powerful brass with harmony vocals.
Fans can also sing-along with an all-Spanish performance by the Mavericks at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 5 in Chevy Court. The group is back at 7 p.m. for a second show in English. The band, known for a diverse musical style, recently released their first all-Spanish album titled simply En Español. Songs feature boleros, mariachi, and Afro-Cuban classics.
Nothing complements Popular Latino music better than great food and this year, desserts are on the menu for the first time in the Latino Village. Get started with a Puerto Rican Garbage Plate full of flavorful rice, beans, and meat from Rob’s Kabobs, a food truck favorite in Rochester. Grab a wine slushie poquito to quench your thirst from Big Papi’s Coquito Icey, visiting from New York Mills. Top off the meal with dessert from Rob’s Sweet Tooth, based in Rochester. Pastelillo de guava is a Puerto Rican guava-stuffed pastry. If you prefer cream cheese filling, try quesitos. Traditional flan will also be served.
Visitors at the 2019 Fair were asked for feedback and the survey said: Bring back the drag show! It’s an attraction you’ll only find in the Latino Village. The event was added to the lineup to promote diversity beyond race and ethnicity. Guests will notice a Latino influence in some performances. Hostess Samantha Vega was born in Venezuela. She became popular in the New York drag show circuit after moving to Rochester, where she actively supports LGBTQ causes.
CNY Latino will bring back their domino tournament. The table game is very popular within the Latino community and attracts players from all over the state. Winners at the Fair can earn gift cards, prizes, and bragging rights. Four players are needed per game.
Don’t forget to grab a photo with the Latino Village ambassadors, known as Vegigantes. The Puerto Rican folkloric characters wear masks made from coconuts and delight guests with traditional bomba and plena dancing. You’ll see them wandering around the village in beautiful traditional costumes.
Starting September 3, more than a dozen performances are scheduled on the Youth Building Talent Showcase Stage. DJ GI will be spinning the best Latino music from noon to 8:00, daily. The full schedule is:
|Sept. 3||12:00 PM||Kevin Tapia|
|4:00 PM||El Potro Doney|
|7:30 PM||Grupo Karis|
|Sept. 4||12:00 PM||Bailamos with DJ GI|
|4:00 PM||Edwin Vazquez|
|8:00 PM||2Face Orquesta|
|Sept. 5||12:00 PM||Bailamos with DJ GI|
|4:00 PM||Latino Village Drag Show|
|8:00 PM||Sonidos Unidos|
|Sept. 6||12:00 PM||Trio Los Claveles|
|4:00 PM||La Joven Guardia del Teatro Latino (Dancing)|
Founded in 1841, the Great New York State Fair is America’s third largest state fair. The Fair showcases the best of New York agriculture, provides top-quality entertainment and is a key piece of the CNY Rising strategy of growing the Central New York economy through tourism. Fair attendance is up more than 46% since the beginning of more than $120 million in investments, with 1.33 million people attending the Fair in 2019. The 2021 Fair runs from August 20 to September 6.
The New York State Fairgrounds is a 375-acre exhibit and entertainment complex that operates all year. Find the Great New York State Fair on its website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and enjoy photos from the Fair on Flickr. Also, New Yorkers are invited to send their ideas for the Great New York State Fair to firstname.lastname@example.org.