Frida Fest: Annual artist celebration pushes forward despite weather

EDINBURG — Not even rain could keep the Frida Fest down.

The fourth annual outdoor event matched the perseverance of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo by going forward as planned on Saturday.

On the patio outside city hall, vendors displayed their art, jewelry and clothes. Numerous food vendors lined the west end of the patio with tacos, burgers, corn and funnel cakes among their offerings.

“We thought it would be a great idea since we do a lot of the cultural events for the city of Edinburg,” said Letty Leija, director of Library and Cultural Arts for the city.

Since the city already had an art walk called Jardin del Arte, Leija said they thought it would be a good idea to celebrate an artist.

“Frida being so popular, it just took off,” she said.

In addition to vendors, activities included a Frida and Diego look-a-like contest, a panel discussion and two productions of “Buscando A Frida” — one in English and one in Spanish — by the Lucia Macias Theatre Company, a local theater group.

The rain, unfortunately, did delay some of the events including the live music that was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. but didn’t begin until about 6 p.m.

The weather also meant a small turnout than last year however, Leija said she was surprised that so many people did show up.

Leija credited the big interest in Frida to her personality, especially her perseverance.

“Perseverance is a key word that always comes up with her because even though she suffered throughout her life, both emotionally and physically, she was able to move ahead,” she said.

For 23-year-old Stephanie Jara, her appreciation of Frida began when she was about 8-years-old and attended an art exhibition of her work in Monterrey.

Jara, who grew up in Monterrey and moved to the Rio Grande Valley when she was 11, said she was surprised to learn last year that Frida was well-known here when she attended Frida Fest for the first time.

“I’m really happy that her art’s being appreciated,” she said. “I like how she says a lot through her art and you kind of feel how she felt.”

Her admiration was shared by her mother who was a Frida Fest first-timer this year.

Claudia Cruz, 45, said that like her daughter she learned about Frida by viewing her artwork in museums in Monterrey and from reading books about her.

Her favorite piece, Cruz said is Viva la Vida, Watermelons which is a phrase that stuck with her.

“That is what attracts me most to Frida, honestly, more than her artwork, is the way she lived her life, so passionate and with so much happiness despite the fact that she couldn’t walk,” Cruz said in Spanish. “It didn’t limit her at all, she lived life with intensity, and more than anything, how she wanted to: happily.”