The pioneering band Los Lobos – multiple Grammy Award winners and one of the most influential Chicano musical acts in history – will be in Madison this weekend to headline at the Fete de Marquette. That’s a pretty big deal for the annual festival now in its 13th year that kicks off tonight at Milton McPike Park on Madison’s near east side.

“We are so excited to have Los Lobos. They are such an amazing band,” Beatrice Hadidian, development/program director at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center and one of the organizers of La Fete de Marquette, tells Madison365. “They are the biggest artist we’ve ever had and we’re so happy to have them at La Fete.”

Los Lobos is the famous East L.A. barrio band who became unexpected stars in the summer of 1987 thanks to their hit cover of Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba. Their music has been influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, zydeco, folk, R&B, blues, brown-eyed soul, and traditional music such as cumbia, boleros and norteños. The band represents a little bit of the great diversity of musical acts that will be present at La Fete de Marquette where headliners will also include Dwayne Dopsie (Thursday), Givers (Friday), and Anders Osborne (Saturday). Los Lobos will headline on Sunday night.

Dwayne Dopsie

There will also be strong supporting acts — and crowd favorites — performing at La Fete including Turkuaz, Gingkoa, Feufollet and Sweet Crude.

The Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center organizes and produces La Fete de Marquette each year. As a free festival with a small budget that doubles as a fundraiser for the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center, the organizers are excited about the diverse musical talent they will have on display this weekend.

“We’ve always tried to bring together acts from throughout the world,” Hadidian says. “We really pride ourselves on our diversity.”

The annual La Fete de Marquette is one of Madison’s most anticipated summer festivals. Beyond the music, there is also food from all over the world. A lot of people who come to the annual La Fete de Marquette celebration don’t even know that it’s a fundraiser for the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center.

Mama Digdowns perform on the main stage at a previous Fete de Marquette.

“We want every single dollar possible to go back into our community, specifically the programs and services provided at Wil-Mar.” Hadidian says. “We serve more than 15,000 individuals each year. That means that we have free community meals, we have a food pantry, subsidized after school and summer camps for more than 250 kids. We’re serving everybody from newborn babies through our community playgroups on up through senior citizens through nutrition and recreation programs.”

The Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center is celebrating 50 years this summer. “We will be sharing with people our capital campaign and some of our future plans for Wil-Mar,” Hadidian says. “It will be fun to see people’s response to that. We hope that it will be positive and hope that people will want to get involved.

“The neighborhood has really changed a lot, but our values haven’t changed,” she adds. “And I think Wil-Mar has really helped anchor those values for 50 years. La Fete de Marquette gives a chance for our funders, our community businesses and organizations, a chance to show their commitment to their community. That’s what makes it so special.”

La Fete de Marquette will feature three stages offering a diverse range of artists including local favorites Don’t Mess With Cupid, the Cajun Strangers, Robin Pluer & Mrs. Fun, and Jonny Chimes playing funk, soul, Americana, jazz, and cabaret.

The “Family Fete” area offers three bounce houses, two ballparks, arts and crafts, the vintage Three-Story Ferris Wheel, and a Friday night family parade and movie under the stars. On Saturday night, revelers will get down at Madison’s largest electronic music presentation, “Musique Electronique!” headlined by Derrick Carter.

On the Ferris Wheel at La Fete de Marquette

The admission to La Fete is free.

“We really want to have a diverse crowd. Just because an event is free admission, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other barriers that could be in the way to somebody coming down to La Fete,” Hadidian says. “We’ve worked with our vendors to make sure that they have affordable food options and we work to keep as much of the activities as free or low-cost as possible.

Kids play in the ballpark at the Family Fete

“We have taken a look at how we promote the festival and how we work with community partners to engage more groups,” she adds. “We’re trying to get the word out in as many channels as possible including ones with diverse audiences like Madison365.”

Hadidan says that La Fete de Marquette has more than 500 volunteers working for them that helps make the extended weekend of music, food, and fun possible.

“It’s a fun time. It’s a happy time,” she says. “We have volunteers that come back year after year because they love it. Hundreds and hundreds of happy people – it’s a fun thing to be a part of. And it’s for a great cause and a great community event.”

To see the full line-up and event details for La Fete de Marquette 2018, click here.

Written by David Dahmer

David Dahmer

A. David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Madison365.