Originally a Nicaraguan festival, ExpoNica has grown to include food and crafts from throughout Latin America.
By Rodolfo Roman
Special to The Miami Herald
For the first time in Miami, Bill Haley Jr. will bring his musical act to the stage to perform his father’s greatest hits.
Haley is the son of the late Bill Haley, who founded Bill Haley and his Comets in 1952. His father is known for such 1950s hits as Rock Around the Clock and See You Later, Alligator.
Bill Haley Jr. and the comets will headline this year’s “ExpoNica: The Fair of the Americas” on Oct. 28-30 at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition Grounds, 10901 SW 24th St.
“Even though the songs were recorded over 50 years ago people are interested in listening to it,” Haley said in a phone interview.
He says his band’s music is a mixture of rhythm and blues, country-western and jazz. He also plays original music by his group, a successor to his dad’s, called Bill Haley Jr. and the Comets. They will play Saturday and Sunday for about 90 minutes per performance.
“The audience is always happy when they hear this music,” he said. “I always see smiles across the room.”
Eduardo Arroyo, director of the festival, said it’s a new approach for the event, as the audience is used to Hispanic music like salsa and reggaeton.
“We are going to entertain a different type of crowd,” Arroyo said. “This is entertainment for our grandparents who will be reminded about their good old days.”
The three day festival is expected to bring in about 40,000 spectators, he added.
“He is taking his father’s throne,” Arroyo said of Haley’s band. “We thought the public needed something new.”
More than 200 vendors from across Latin America will fly to South Florida to sell the latest in artisan pottery and jewelry, clothes and art. Visitors will have 20 food tents to choose from. Ten bands will perform, including Dimension Costeña and Colombian Aniceto Molina, who will perform Cumbia.
There will be a folkloric ballet group from Honduras and traditional dances from Central America. Local artist will also hit the stage.
The event was founded by Arroyo and his five brothers as a way to preserve Hispanic culture.
In 1991, the fair began with an exhibition of Nicaraguan artisan pottery and folk art. Arroyo said he noticed South Florida’s diversity, so the nonprofit incorporated other countries such as Brazil, Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic and much of Latin America, as well.
Also a first, indigenous people will travel from the Amazon to sell their traditional products.
“This is in celebration of the Hispanic culture in which we celebrate in October,” Arroyo said.
As for Haley, he said he is ready to perform in front of a large Hispanic crowd. His father’s music was very popular in Latin America.
“They created music that people wanted to dance too,” he said.
“The energy of that music still survived today.”
Arroyo said he is honored to celebrate over 20 years of the festival.
“For Miami this has become a tradition.”