The 82nd Annual Charro Days Fiesta officially arrived in Brownsville on Saturday and was ushered in by music, dancing and feasting during Baile del Sol. The week-long event celebrates the friendship and culture shared between Brownsville and its sister city in Mexico, Matamoros.

“I love it,” Lulu Lieck, Charro Days Committee president, said. “The whole year, board members and volunteers were working to see it (happen). It’s amazing.”

Live music performances rotated with dance performances and contests to keep the crowd entertained. Three of the littlest singers were Stillman Middle School students who appeared on Telemundo’s “La Voz Kids:” Jesus Urbina, Joel Treviño and Diego Fernandez. Amos de la Noche and the Tejano Boys were tapped to round out the music sets.

“First of all, it’s a big fiesta. You get to enjoy all the dances, the costumes, see the little kids in their attire,” Lieck said, adding that she had just met an attendee who traveled from Paris. “You get to see people from everywhere.”

Students from Brownsville schools spent weeks or months preparing dances from Mexican states, complete with elaborate regional costumes.

Catalina Peña, 10, was part of the Southmost Elementary group that performed the dance of “Las Igüiris” from Michoacán. It was her second time being part of Baile del Sol, and Catalina said she was happy with the performance even though it was scary going out in front of the crowd.

“It was good. I’m pretty proud of us,” she said.

Javier Balboa, a Putegnat Elementary music teach and dance instructor, said his students prepared a dance from Chihuahua. It was his fifth time leading a dance group for Baile del Sol, but it was his students’ first year taking part in the celebration.

“We’re super excited to show off the kids’ talent and hard work,” Balboa said, adding that the school held auditions in October. “For me, Baile del Sol is the tip of the iceberg where everything just takes off, so it’s meaningful to me.”

He said it’s satisfying to see the end result of the effort put in by everyone involved. Many of the students’ parents are recent immigrants from Mexico, and the performance is an opportunity to connect them with their families’ background.

“I think what they get out of it is they’re more aware of our culture and the roots of Brownsville, because this has been going on since 1938,” Balboa said.

The Charro Days festivities will continue Sunday with A Little Bit of Mexico dance performances hosted at Texas Southmost College by Incarnate Word Academy. The Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts will be home to the Charro Days Art Contest opening Tuesday.

There will be several more events during the week, and Charro Days will round out with the Grand International Parade and Costume Ball on Saturday.

Lieck said her favorite part of the Charro Days Fiesta happens during the parade when she can see the reaction of the excited crowd as the parade participants come down the street.

“Every year we can’t wait for Charro Days to come,” she said. “You get to see all the people come together and just enjoy it, enjoying part of our Mexican-American culture.”

Get more information on Charro Days Fiesta events at charrodaysfiesta.com.