This year, the highly successful Mariachi Festival, which benefits the Bisbee Coalition for the Homeless (BCH), will kick off the two–day event beginning Nov. 1 with the six-woman, one-man Grupo Bella at Warren Ballpark.

Gates will open at 4:30 p.m. Friday and the performance will start at 5 p.m. and finish around 7 p.m. The group will not only serenade the crowd, they will get you up and dancing as they teach the playful steps to keep your feet happy and will even take requests, said Tony Bedolla, Executive Director of BCH.

“It will be a more intimate performance as the musicians get the audience involved,” he added. “We want to build community support and brings the cultures together.”

Dinner and beverages will be available for the evening show.

On Saturday, the day-long fest begins with a long list of popular mariachi bands from California, Tucson, Arizona and Mexico. The Montoya Clan, Grupo Bella of Los Angeles, Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, Sonido de Mexico, Mariachi Milagro, Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School, Mariachi Los Diablitos de Sunnyside and the wonderfully, talented Folklorico dancers of Compania Danza Folklorico de Arizona will all be showcasing their traditional folk music.

Food vendors from all over the state will serve a mix of fine Mexican food, as well as a mouth-watering barbeque. There will be kettle corn, churros, and other savory treats. You will be able to wash that down with wine, margaritas, a variety of beers, soft drinks and water.

This year BCH will host another miners’ reunion, as well as honor military service members. There will be a large tent set up for miners and their families to renew old friendships. Pictures from the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum will be on display and a sign-in sheet available.

The Bisbee Mariachi Festival began as a “small” event at City Park with around 1,900 people attending the show, explained Bedolla. The next year, the crowd nearly doubled. Then BCH decided to look for a larger venue and the Warren Ball Park became the perfect place to entertain the thousands of people who attend. In 2017, 4,500 people came. In 2018, that number jumped to 6,500.

Population needs being met

As important as bringing such talented musicians, singers and cooks to round out a thoroughly enjoyable day is what the event does for the BCH as its biggest fundraiser. One-third of the BCH annual budget of $150,000 is covered by the festival, Bedolla said.

“We’re more than just an emergency shelter,” he noted. “We assist our clients through viable case plans to ensure they become self-sufficient. We do this with no federal funding. It’s thanks to the donations of individuals and businesses that we meet the challenges of our budget.”

Clients serve the Bisbee community through volunteer work programs and must be proactive in seeking employment and permanent housing, he continued. They must take an active role in getting back on their feet.

Some end up at the shelter through divorce, from loss of a job, from drug addiction or behavioral health issues. And, they can come from anywhere across Cochise County.

“We’ll go pick people up if they need transportation here,” said Bedolla. “We’re a county agency, so we go to Willcox and Benson. BCH is more than just an emergency shelter. It is a resource center, too.”

Clients are held accountable and every two weeks they meet with the center’s staff for an assessment of their progress, he noted.

People at the shelter provide community services by mowing lawns, painting fences, fixing doors and pickup trash on Hwy. 92 on what Bedolla calls “Give Back Day.”

With colder weather on the way, Bedolla said anyone needing shelter could come in and sleep on the floor or on couches in the common room.

“We don’t want to turn anyone away under bad weather conditions,” he added.

The non-profit has an eighty-five percent success rate.

“It’s a good environment. We try to be kind and do not discriminate for any reason,” said Bedolla. “And, we try to meet everyone’s needs.”

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