Colombia: The Vallenato Legend Festival

Vallenato is one of the most popular and representative music genres in Colombia. Although it started in the coast, it is difficult to find a Colombian that does not feel identified with an accordion -a musical instrument- or with a sombrero vueltiao (a hat with laps, one of the most popular crafts in the country, which is linked to this music genre).

There is a whole culture around Vallenato, and the city of Valledupar is paralyzed by the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata (Vallenato Legend Festival), a festival that takes place during late April.

Guajiro with an accordion, A wall at the Riohacha Airport, Colombia by Mon4ch0 in Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Fundacion Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata [es] (Vallenato Legend Festival Foundation) is the main group responsible for the organization of the celebration. The foundation was created in 1986, but the festival has been taking place for 40 years [es]:

Hace 40 años, tres personas pensaron que era hora de hacer algo para que todo ese acervo cultural y musical no desapareciera en las nebulosas del tiempo, y decidieron crear el Festival de La Leyenda Vallenata para recrear toda la magia de una tierra donde los mitos, las costumbres, las propias vivencias y una riqueza lingüística y oral nutren día por día la literatura y el pentagrama donde se tejen las letras y las melodías del vallenato.

40 years ago, three people thought that it was time to do something about their cultural and music heritage, so that they would not disappear because of the time. They decided to create The Vallenato Legend Festival in order to recreate all the magic in a country where myths, traditions, day-to-day life and linguistic wealth inspire literature and the stave in which lyrics and the Vallenato melodies are woven.

The festival lasts six days and this year it took place from April 25 to April 30. The schedule for those days included many activities, with a pilonera parade and contests for the best new Vallenato song, professional accordion player and amateur accordion player, among others. The most important award of the festival is “El Rey Vallenato” (The Vallenato King).

Mi Barrancas Blog shares details of the program [es], like the places of the events and the visit of Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, to the city.

Gente Élite provides a broader description of the four Vallenato “aires”: Paseo, Merengue, Puya and Son, which are some of the rhythm variations [es] of this music genre that can be either slow or fast depending on the melodies. The site also shares the 2011 competition figures.

Hay 69 acordeoneros luchando por el título de Acordeón Profesional, 60 para Acordeón Aficionado, 77 para Acordeón Juvenil, 64 para Acordeón Infantil y 50 para Piqueria.

There are 69 accordion players looking to win the Professional Accordion Player award, 60 for the Amateur Accordion Player, 77 for the Young Accordion Player, 64 for the Child Accordion Player and 50 for Piqueria [a battle of lyrics].

The site also describes the rules to choose the 74 competing songs for the best new song award of this year:

Para hacer esta selección, el comité nombrado escuchó 212 canciones durante tres días, del 13 al 15 de abril, para al final escoger las 74 privilegiadas.

The designated committee listened to 212 songs for three days to choose the nominees, from April 13 to April 15, and they finally chose the 74 nominees.

This year, the event immediately appeared on social networks, where netizens expressed their excitement about the opening of the Festival with the #FestivalVallenato hashtag, their opinion on the Doodle that Google Colombia dedicated to this event and the their motivation to participate in the different competitions of this Festival.

Alfredo Araujo (@AlfredoAra) wrote:

Empezó la fiesta mas grande del vallenato, el festival, donde los 4 aires se mezclan con el frio que baja de la sierra y llena el alma.

The biggest Vallenato party has started. In this Festival the four rhythms are mixed with the encouraging cold coming down from the sierra.

Mumo (@Mumismo) specified what these four rhythms are:

Son, Paseo, Merengue y Puya, los 4 aires vallenatos que sonarán desde mañana de Valledupar para el mundo #FestivalVallenato

Son, Paseo, Merengue and Puya. The four Vallenato rhythms that will be played since tomorrow from Valledupar to the rest of the world. #FestivalVallenato

Regarding Google's Doodle, Blog Vallenato described the changes to the Google logo:

En esta ocasión Google remplazó su segunda letra o por una caja de percusión vallenata, a la cola de la segunda letra g le adhirió un acordeón estirado que entre sus arrugas deja ver el tricolor nacional y a la letra l le cuelga un sombrero vueltiao, icono de la Costa Atlántica y cada vez mas de la colombianidad en el exterior.

This time Google has replaced its second letter with a Vallenato percussion box, the tail of the second g has an unfolded accordion where we can see the Colombian flag. There is a Sombrero Vueltiao- the Atlantic coast symbol that increasingly represents Colombian nationality abroad- hanging on the letter L.

And María Paula Catolico (@mariapcatolico) stated:

me encanta entrar a GOOGLE hoy y ver un acordeon #festivalvallenato

I love going to GOOGLE today to find an accordion #festivalvallenato

@Mumiso shared a photo of the Google Doodle.

People also expressed their longing to participate in the activities of the festival, like Sibelys Barrios (@Sibe_Barrios) who wrote:

Como desearía estar en el valle en pleno inicio del #FestivalVallenato… Pero el deber y las obligaciones no ayudan….

I would love to be in the city in the opening of the #FestivalVallenato… but responsibilities and duties are keeping me from going…

Daniel Lacouture (@danilacouture) stated:

Ay ve.. Con en alma en una acordeón!! Ahora si con ganas de estar allá. #festivalvallenato

You see.. with my soul in an accordion! Now I long to be there. #festivalvallenato

Relating the Vallenato festival with the heavy rainfall the country is experiencing, Santiago Barba and Jorge Iván Rincón wrote the following:

Santiago Barba L (@SantiagobarbaL):

Entre tanta adversidad, un espacio de alegria no viene mal “Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata ”

A space for happiness “Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata” is welcomed among all the problems that we are facing

Jorge Iván Rincón (@Eltotirincon):

que pesar…nosotros alegres por el comienzo del #festivalvallenato y en chia y la sabana de bogota con el agua hasta el techo

How sad! We are happy because the #festivalvallenato started and in Chia and Bogota people have water up to their roofs :(

Notes of Interest:

-A local newspaper published an article [es] about the absence of students in schools due to the Vallenato Festival.

-The MiValledupar.Com (@MiValledupar) site uploaded a video of the pilanderas:

Así se bailará por las calles de @MiValledupar, el desfile de las piloneras

That is how they will dance in the streets of @MiValledupar, the piloneras parade


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