Centroamericanto Fest was founded by Salvadoran singer-songwriter Mauricio Callejas and it is put together every year with the help of Teresita Ramos as co-chair and by a group of enthusiast volunteers who strive to represent the values and traditions of Central American culture with dignity and professionalism. The festival started as a natural extension of a Central American music portal "centroamericanto.net" which was published by Mauricio back in 2003. "Centroamericanto.net" offered web presence to hundreds of musicians from Central America and helped to promote their work on a Pre-Facebook world.
During the first years of this venture, connections were made between artists from different countries and different music influences. The portal received material from established artists and upcoming singers and bands. The first attempt of a jointed appareance happened in El Salvador in 2005 at "La Luna Casa y Arte". It was not promoted as a festival, but looking back, that was the first Centroamericanto Fest. Some of the acts that performed that night include the legendary Yolocamba I Ta (shown in the picture), Los de A Pie, Grupo Trova and Esteban Monge from Costa Rica.
A second iteration happened in 2008 in El Salvador but this time it was held at the Cultural Center of the Central American University (UCA). Several singers-songwriters and bands came to the second gathering of centroamericanto.net like the Salvadorans Manuel Contreras, Juan Carlos Berrios, Franklin Quesada, Ariosto montesinos from Mexico and many others. Mauricio who had been living in Austin, TX. since 2002, traveled to El Salvador for the first two concerts, but the seed had been planted and the next stage would take the event to the US.
The first time of the festival in Austin TX took place in 2011. The challenge was to introduce Central American music to an entire new audience. The conditions aligned to bring one of the most important singer-songwriters from Honduras "Guillermo Anderson" (deceased in August 6, 2016) who was touring the US and had been one of the first artists to believe in centroamericanto.net project. The first Centroamericanto Fest in the US was a total success with a sold out concert at the legendary Cactus Cafe at UT Austin. The bar had been set high.
In the following years, Centroamericanto Fest became an annual tradition in Austin, creating cultural bridges between the different countries and cultures that enrich this city. We have had the opportunity to host performances for some of the most important artists from almost every country in Central America, like Guillermo Anderson from Honduras, Rómulo Castro from Panama, Luis Enrique Mejía Godoy and Katia Cardenal from Nicaragua, Sarah Curruchich from Guatemala, Manuel Contreras from El Salvador, Esteban Alvarez, Jeana, Juan Carlos Ureña, Rialengo and Guadalupe Urbina from Costa Rica among many other.
Since 2012 the festival has been awarded with the Cultural Contracts of the City of Austin and has held events at different public spaces in Austin like the Hillside Theater of the Zilker Park, the Daugherty Arts Center, Plaza Saltillo, the ESB Mexican American Cultural Center and private venues like the Cactus Cafe and the Scottish Rite Theater. In 2018 the City of Austin proclaimed Sept 1st as Centroamericanto Fest day. This project could not be possible without the support of the local community, the City of Austin, local organizations like La Peña, Alianza Cultural Latinoamericana, volunteers from different countries and cultures that believe in our mission of spreading the good news that come from Central America in the way of authentic art expressions.
This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department