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The music returns to National City Robert Moreno | Fri, Apr 26 2013 12:00 PM

As Chula Vista ends its Cinco de Mayo festival, the fiesta continues in National City.

The 11th annual National City Cinco de Mayo festival will, for the first time, headline a mariachi competition on Saturday, April 27, at Pepper Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

National City’s Chamber of Commerce is this year’s organizer of the free event, after saving it from extinction last year.

“Last year was a salvation year,” National City’s Chamber of Commerce President Jacqueline Reynoso said. “We heard that it wasn’t going to happen and wanted to make sure that we continue to hold this festival in National City.”

Before the chamber got involved, community volunteers organized the event.

The festivities are normally held at Kimball Park, but were moved to Pepper Park this year because the Port of San Diego is a title sponsor, that way the event will be held on the Port tideland to attract a larger crowd, Reynoso said.

Reynoso said the chamber’s festival is held before Cinco de Mayo because it wants to be the first city to kick off the Cinco de Mayo festivities in San Diego.

Ten mariachi groups will compete for $4,000 worth of prize money.

Chula Vista High School’s Mariachi Chula Vista is one of the mariachi groups that is competing.

“This gives us an opportunity to be heard in public,” Mark Fogelquist, Marachi Chula Vista’s director, said. “It’s exposure for the group and the music.”

Reynoso said California Sen. Ben Hueso will open the event and is singing with the first mariachi group.

For old-time mariachi fans, Reynoso said, Guicho Cisneros y Sus Dandy’s will also be performing.

While the mariachi fest is the main attraction in National City’s Cinco de Mayo festival, other activities that include arts and crafts, a petting zoo and face painting are featured.

Reynoso said there will also be a diverse selection of food and cuisine.

Last year, National City added a tourism marketing district to raise the visibility of the city as a tourist destination at an affordable price.

Reynoso said a festival of this magnitude helps promote the South Bay city through the new tourism marketing district.

“This is all part of our long- term plan of promoting National City as a great destination for families,” she said. “Not only will the festival help bring people to National City, we want them to stay here and really find out everything we have to offer.”

For  festival information visit www.mariachifest.com.

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