Community leaders Denise Hernandez and José Velásquez deliver their vision of Chingona Fest ATX —
August 20, 2018

Community leaders Denise Hernandez and José Velásquez deliver their vision of Chingona Fest ATX

By Lesly Reynaga

Chingona Fest
Community leaders Denise Hernandez and José Velásquez of Chingona Fest ATX

The best ideas always come from leaders looking to make an impact in our community. Such is the case for the new Chingona Fest ATX, an event with a goal of uniting women of color through music, food, and art, coming to Hops & Grain Brewing this Saturday, April 7. The two minds behind the festival are Denise Hernandez, co-founder of social impact brand and event production firm Hustle for the Cause, and community leader José Velásquez.

What started as one woman’s idea is now underway to become a tangible festival that unites fellow chingonas while supporting the advancement of young women of color.

“Jose and I were at Hops & Grain drinking one night,” Hernandez explained. “The idea of the fest started in the Rio Grande Valley. It started with young women who were putting on festivals down there that were more like workshops and conferences where they brought women together. I knew about this idea because it also happened in San Antonio. I wanted to create that here in Austin but more of a music festival. I told myself “who do I need to speak to to make this a reality? And José [Velásquez] was the first person I thought of.”

“When we met [at Hops & Grain] we were talking and he was like ‘you know, they really want to have an event here,’ and I told him ‘oh my God, José, this feels so serendipitous because this is why I wanted to meet with you.’  That’s when I started telling him about Chingona Fest and he said ‘wait, wait, wait, what if we get Hops & Grain to brew us a Chingona beer?’ That idea had never come to my mind. José took it one step further with the idea of bringing people together even more so with Chingona beer.”

The Mission of Chingona Fest ATX is to empower women of color through music, art, and food. All vendors will be women of color, and all musicians will be led by women of color. Another staple of the event will be the launch of Chingona Beer by Hops & Grain Brewing at the festival. The Beer Can was designed by Claudia G. Aparicio Gamundi. This is the first beer of its kind, and a portion of every Chingona Beer sale will be donated to Latinitas and Con Mi MADRE.

“I think the beauty of it all is that, when Denise brought the idea, I was humbled that she was like ‘hey, I want you to help me because I think you’re the right person to help me get this thing off the ground,'” Velásquez said. “But then the fact that it is all now a partnership with Hops & Grain is beautiful. They’ve been amazing partners to us since we started this thing. Denise had a beautiful idea, I just added what little pieces I could to it and then we got rocking and rolling.

It’s hard to find people that have the same genuine motivations when it comes to empowering Latinas. I was raised by a single mother. I was raised by my tias and my sister at home and I’ve never had a problem taking orders or doing for Latinas or chingonas. You know, I very much value the staple of friends that I have. My mom always told me ‘if you have people who are close enough to be your friends, then they’re family,’ and that’s what Denise is to me. We instantly clicked and things just took off.”

Hustle for the Cause is owned and operated by Hernandez and her fiancé Krista Cottingim, both LGBTQ women of color. Passionate about social change and community outreach, the couple launched Hustle for the Cause to create products and experiences that represent and empower underserved communities. Every product and event developed by Hustle for the Cause is connected to a philanthropic initiative.

“We had a meeting here just the other day, and every person at this table was so excited about not what they were gonna get out of it but by what we were creating for the city of Austin,” Velásquez continued. “It’s that sense of solidarity that this thing is bigger than us. Nobody came to this table with any kind of level of ego and it’s beautiful to watch because there’s no hidden agenda but it was all about we’re here to do something for the chingonas of Austin, Texas and that’s been the theme. We all want to do something good for the community and it’s been a blessing all the way around.”

Bidi Bidi Banda

The Headliner for the festival is Austin’s very own Bidi Bidi Banda. Other musical acts include Cecilia and The Broken Hearts; Mariachi Las Coronelas; and Chulita Vinyl Club. Mosaic Sound Collective is sponsoring audio and visual services. A portion of the festival proceeds will be donated to Latinitas and Con Mi MADRE, two nonprofits dedicated to the educational advancement of young women in the Austin community.

“The idea is to celebrate and empower women of color in all aspects, not just music, but women who are out there… single moms, who are chingonas in the sense that they are faced with a hard scenario and they always overcome,” Hernandez said. “Whether that would be in music or just regular day women or, you know, when you’re a creative and you make your own stuff. It’s all about bringing women together under one space.

One thing that I really enjoyed seeing is that, on Facebook, the response has been so well-received. You see young Latinas out there being like  ‘look, they’ve created a festival for me,’ because they see themselves as chingonas. It’s exciting to create a space where we can bring out these women who identify with the word chingona, under one house, to meet other chingonas, to drink chingona beer, to meet men who celebrate chingonas. It’s all about being under that one space. We want the little girls to come to this festival, we want the women who are here to see themselves in every aspect.”

The schedule of events (subject to change) is as follows: 3:30 p.m. – Gates open for General Admission with DJ Set By Chulita Vinyl Club; 4:30 p.m. – Music performance by Mariachi Las Coronelas; 6:15 p.m. – Music performance by Cecilia and the Broken Hearts; 8:15 p.m. – Headliner performance by Bidi Bidi Banda.

“I think the development of Chingona Fest and people who are jumping on is just illustrating how necessary this festival was,” Hernandez stated. “I’m excited that I’m able to work with so many souls just to get it started, including the musicians. It’s been a beautiful process seeing the community come together.”

General Admission tickets are $20. Hops & Grain is located at 507 Calles Street #101. Tickets for Chingona Fest ATX available at ChingonaFestATX.

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