Costa Maya Festival 2015
Tuesday, August 11th, 2015
The 2015 International Costa Maya Festival® has come and gone, leaving only memories of the beauty, talent and great music shared over the three-night celebration. Brought to attendees by a hard-working committee and volunteers, Costa Maya featured a medley of dancers, musicians, beauty contestants, games, food and drinks galore. In 1991, a group of like-minded businesspeople and citizens sought to bring business during the ‘slow season’ to La Isla Bonita, and truly, the Costa Maya Festival has evolved from its beginnings as the Sea & Air Festival. If the hotel bookings, golf cart rentals, daytime entertainment and nightclubs’ parties are anything to go by; the initial goal has been met: the island thrives over the festival weekend.
This year’s Costa Maya featured the standard line-up: Pageant Night, Fiesta Friday and International Night. Once again, the weekend of celebrations was declared a success!
Miss Honduras wins the 2015/2016 Reina de La Costa Maya Pageant
The opening night of the Costa Maya Festival was on Thursday august 6th, and featured eight beauty contestants vying for the title of Reina de la Costa Maya. Featuring a Carnival theme, the pageant brought much color, music, dance and beauty to the stage. Eight contestants, Miss Belize Samalia Vernon, Miss Costa Rica Corlina On Porras, Miss El Salvador Genesis Margarita Fuentes Bolaños, Miss Guatemala Lisa Hayet Francis, Miss Honduras Gabriela Vanessa Salazar Valle, Miss Mexico Samantha Gutíerrez Gónzalez-Rubio, Miss Nicaragua Yuliset Laguna, and Miss Panama Maria Saavendra performed exceptionally well, though only one could walk away with the crown. This year, the new Reina is from Honduras, Miss Gabriela Vanessa Salazar Valle!
Opening the stage was the lively performance by San Pedro AIDS Commission Carnival Comparsa Group with their popular “Rompe La Piñata” dance sequence. They were followed by Belize’s Soca Queen, the ever-energetic Ernestine Carballo, who was joined by members of the Belize National Dance Company. After properly warming up the stage, the entertainers made way for the eight contestants as they proudly displayed their elaborate and colorful cultural costumes. Feathers, beading, crystals, colors and history were modeled beautifully, a piece of each country depicted with honor and grace.
During intermission breaks, Mexico’s Ballet Alma Caribeña dance group kept the crowd grooving with their dynamic routines. Their performances fit the carnival theme just right as they performed to tropical tunes dressed in fabulous costumes.
The crowd was further delighted by the second segment of the pageant, which was choreographed by the very talented Zuzana Marosova. Dressed in bright swimwear, the delegates commanded the stage, captivating the audience with their confidence and glamour!
Masters of Ceremonies Eiden Salazar Jr. and Karen Jordan quipped with the crowd for a few moments before the beauties graced the stage in their stunning evening gowns. Beauty and elegance radiated from each of the ladies as they sashayed across the stage. In a twist to the standard set-up, each contestant stood on-stage after modeling her gown, ready to face the most difficult of the night’s tasks: Question and Answer segment. Judging the eight beauties were Gricel Graniel, Idolly Saldivar, Manuel Ancona, Tanya Giacoman Ayala, and Diane Tabony.
While the final results were tallied, the eight contestants joined Miss Costa Maya Elisa Gomez as the organizers paid tribute to dearly departed Maria Jose Alvarado. Alvarado represented Honduras in the 2014/2015 Reina de La Costa Maya Pageant. Her life (and her sister’s) was cut short just a month after the pageant, following an incident of domestic violence. The beautiful tribute highlighted a life cut far too short, and there was not a dry eye in the audience as images of Maria Jose flashed on screen, showing her vibrant smile and captivating personality through photos taken during her participation in last year’s pageant.
Following a moment of silence, Miss Costa Maya 2014 also gave her farewell tribute before the announcement of the winners could commence. The first prize announced was that of the winner of the costume segment, and taking that title was Miss Honduras, Gabriela Vanessa Salazar Valle. She was gifted with a bouquet and carved trophy. Eiden and Karen then announced the second runner-up, and she is Miss Belize Samalia Vernon. First runner-up was Miss El Salvador Genesis Margarita Fuentes Bolaños. And the new Reina de La Costa Maya is…Miss Honduras Gabriela Vanessa Salazar Valle!
Congratulations to Gabriela!
After the election of the new beauty ambassador for the Costa Maya Festival, the following night of events features more cultural display. But before the performances could begin, it was time for reflection and giving their speeches, which highlighted the purpose of the festival. San Pedro Town Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Minister of Tourism and Culture Manuel Heredia Jr. both spoke of the need to support the festival, especially as the rewards are clearly visible in the way that business was booming around town during the festival. They encouraged businesses who have not joined the list of sponsors to join in next year’s event, as the festival is a community celebration for all.
Our new Reina Gabriela Valle then took the stage and thanked attendees for their support of the festival. She spoke of the warmth and hospitality that has been shown since her (and the other delegates’) arrival to the island, and applauded everyone for making the festival such a success. Following protocol, it was time to open the show!
Ballet Alma Caribeña of Quintana Roo, Mexico, took to the stage to bring lively, colorful traditional dances. A talented singer joined the troupe and performed marvelously. They were followed by the Belize National Dance Company showcasing Belizean culture and music.
But the highlights of the night were the other two performances. Directly from Honduras, El Chevo brought his eclectic, modern Punta vibes to the stage. Joined by the fabulous dancers from El Salvador’s Grupo Crash, El Chevo dominated the stage and had the crowd going, properly priming them for the night’s stars: Gilharry 7. The Belizean band is a mainstay favorite, and they brought the best music to life, getting people out of their seats and onto the dance area, way into the early hours of the morning! What a night it was!
Costa Maya culminated on Saturday, August 8th with a spectacular concert by international Mexican band, Grupo Ladron. Vocalist Sergio Villarreal and musicians Orlando Contreras, Jorge Salas and Raul Zambrano delighted the attendees with an extraordinarily romantic concert.
Early in the evening, an eager crowd lined up outside the Honorable Louis Sylvester Sporting Arena in anticipation of the highlight of the evening. The night began when El Salvador’s Grupo Crash took the stage. They kept the audience in awe with their energetic and well-choreographed dance performances featuring Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Quebradita, Tango, Flamenco and even Brazilian Lambada. As Master of Ceremonies Eiden Salazar said, the festival would not be complete without the participation of Grupo Crash.
Following the high energy dances, Belizean rock band Almost 7 brought their unique rocking style to stage, entertaining the crowd with a mix of original songs and even a few covers. They were followed up by Mariachi San Felipe from Mexico, who gave an excellent rendition of rancheras to get the crowd in the mood for the main act.
As the time drew near, the audience jostled and made its way to the foot of the stage, chanting for the international artists. Grupo Ladron certainly had the crowd singing, screaming and enjoying their most popular hits, including “Tu me quieres lastimar” and “A la Luz de la Luna.” As the band interpreted song after the song, the crowd joined them in singing well into the wee hours of the morning. Certainly, this year’s concert was a crowd-pleaser once again!
We congratulate the organizing committee for their hard work and tireless efforts in keeping this festival going year after year. We look forward to their plans for an exciting Costa Maya 2016! See you there!
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