Largest Scale Latin Street Festival in the U.S. Celebrated Four Decades of Success Complete with Top-Notch Musical Acts and Unforgettable Experiences

Kiwanis Club of Little Havana celebrated its 40th annual Calle Ocho Festival attracting more than 1 million attendees. Known as the largest Latino festival in the United States, this year’s flagship event featured live performances from Kings of Carnaval 2017, CNCO, Reykon, Willy Chirino, Albita, Jose Alberto “El Canario,” Milly Quezada, Piso 21, Chacal, Cosculluela, J Quilles and Carlos Oliva, as well as savory competitions like the first-ever El Croquetazo presented by Catalina and 3rd Annual Cuban Sandwich Smackdown.

Marking the official end of a week’s worth of Carnaval Miami 2017 events, the marquis annual fundraiser of Kiwanis Club of Little Havana in support of the Kiwanis Little Havana Foundation’s youth development programs, Calle Ocho capped off the series in stunning fashion. The event brought together more than 1,250,000 attendees representing a myriad of Latin American countries.

“We could not be more humbled by the overwhelming support received from the community to help ring in such an important milestone for Calle Ocho. We look forward to celebrating Miami’s vibrant culture and tradition for another 40 years as our Latin ties are stronger now than ever,” said Kiwanis Club of Little Havana President, Jerry Fernandez.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary, a V.I.P. component was introduced to the annual festival for the first time ever, offering event-goers an exclusive experience. V.I.P. Passport holders received special gift bags and explored the festival’s sixteen blocks using special transportation provided by Freebie; enjoyed access to privileged areas, including Kiwanis hospitality suite at Ball & Chain; and had the opportunity to mingle with Calle Ocho stage performers and the 2017 poster artist Alexander Mijares, on a day full of surprises and fun.

Adding flavor to the festival were culinary crowd favorites Cuban Sandwich Smackdown and El Croquetazo.

  • More than 10 restaurants from around the region competed in the Cuban Sandwich Smackdown for a chance to win, but Sanguich de Miami took home the 2017 title of “The Best Cuban Sandwich in Miami and South Florida.”
  • More than 30 individuals went head-to-head, eating as many croquettes as possible for bragging rights and monetary prizes ranging from $100 to $1,750, but only three prevailed.  Winners in each of the categories were: Michael Rodriguez from amateur with 44 croquettes, Jose Antonio Alvarez from celebrity with 15 croquettes and Carmen Cincotti (New Jersey) from professional with 158 croquettes in eight minutes.

El Croquetazo

Closing out the day-long festival was a performance by CNCO, the Kings of Carnaval Miami 2017. The group stole the crowd’s hearts with performances of their hit song, “Quisiera” and their current single, “Reggaetón Lento.” Emerging in 2015 as the winners of Univision’s all-boy band singing competition, “La Banda,” Erick Colón (Cuba; 16), Joel Pimentel (Mexico; 18), Cristopher Vélez (Ecuador; 21), Zabdiel de Jesús (Puerto Rico; 19), and Richard Camacho (Dominican Republic; 20) are a true representation of Latinos with diverse backgrounds and ages, making them a perfect fit for this year’s crown.

Though Carnaval Miami 2017 has come to a close, the support it will provide to local youth will continue throughout the year. Carnaval Miami is organized annually by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana with all proceeds supporting the Kiwanis of Little Havana Foundation’s youth development programs.  This year’s efforts will:

  • Cover the costs for more than 225 children ages 7-13 to attend a 2-month summer camp at Lummus Park;
  • Fill 6,000 backpacks with school supplies to be distributed to local youth;
  • Provide scholarships to a college or university in the State of Florida to 20 selected Hispanic students;
  • Offer recreational basketball and mentorship opportunities to more than 200 inner city boys and girls through the Youth Basketball League;
  • Contribute more than $200 million to South Florida’s economy.

The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana encourages the community to learn more about its mission, cause and impact of its programs on the local community.  For more information, visit http://carnavalmiami.com and follow them on Twitter (@KiwanisKCLH) and Facebook (@KiwanisLittleHavana).

Sponsors of this year’s event included AT&T, Heineken, Coca-Cola, Tu 94.9, Univision 23, Telemundo 51, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Catalina, Amor 107.5, Humana, Mix 98.3, CAC Florida Medical Centers, U.S. Army, Monster Energy, The Miami Herald / El Nuevo Herald, Diario Las Americas, ALAS USA, Bacardi, Ding.com, McDonalds (me encanta), Bigen, Ball & Chain, Miami Dolphins, Ford, Trolli, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, P&G, Jet Blue, Latin Times, Calle Ocho News, Fresco y Más, Cigna, Pep Boys, Lory’s Transmission, Gordon Food Service, Miami Parking Authority, Libby’s, lyft, Knorr, Lipton, Hellmann’s, Country Crock, The City of Miami Dade Co. Florida, Gayo Azul, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Smurfs, Jackson Health System, The Boss Baby, Advance Auto Parts, Actualidad 1040 AM, Intown, CHIPS, Gasolina Party in a Pouch, Major League Eating.