The auditorium at Robstown High School was filled with the sound of music and singing as more than 30 mariachi bands from schools around the South Texas Region competed in the El Cotton Picker 2016 Mariachi Festival.
The winner in the overall solo vocal high school division was Joe Anthony Perez from Ben Bolt -Palito Blanco varsity band Mariachi Azul y Plata.
Robstown High School band Mariachi Sol Rojo started the concert, followed by performances by the day's winners and finishing the night with a performance by the all female Mariachi Mariposas.
Several school bands traveled nearly 200 miles to be a part of the competition with the furthest coming from Houston, Texas. From 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. students from the different bands went before judges in the auditorium to vie for top spot at competition. With several talented schools, the judges had their hands full. The Middle School overall winner was Edcouch Carlos F. Truan Jr. High School Mariachi Juvenil Azteca. Overall high school winner was Edcouch Elsa High School Mariachi Juvenil Azteca.
Charles Cabrera is a consultant acting as the director for Sol Rojo and stated that he's proud of his students. “With all my years of teaching, I've never heard of kids with only four to six weeks of practice putting on such a caliber of performance,” said Cabrera about the band's first concert last December. Cabrera credits Sol Rojo's efforts towards their music as the catalyst that led them to state competition in their first year.
“You can't force them, it has to come from them. You can't make them do it,” Cabrera said.