Founder of Hialeah Fest Ferny Coipel Talks Hialeah Memories, Lineups, and This Weekend's Festivities

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Ahhh La Ciudad Que Progresa. It's not uncommon to hear jokes at its expense, like the classic rhyme, "Hialeah, agua, fango y factoria," (water, mud and factories). Sure, motorists tend to end up more lost in Hialeah than Helen Keller without a seeing eye dog. After all, it's like, "WTF, street? Are you 49th or 103rd? Make up your fucking mind!" But perhaps a lot of those stereotypes don't give Hialeah a fair shake.

"Its a magical city with no parking meters and the highest selling taco bell in the nation," says Ferny Coipel, founder of Hialeah Fest and Humbert frontman. "Its a place where people still have farm animals in their yard. I mean, in what other overpopulated city can you wake up, look outside your window and see your neighbors cock?"
He goes on to say, "The same city that still has the down home charm that enables kids to wake up on Christmas morning and play with their toys outside. I can't tell you how many times I've stepped outside on Christmas Day and seen boys in the middle of the street playing with their balls."

All double entendre aside, Coipel loves the City of Progress, clearly. And so do the many bands participating, some 20 as of today. "Hialeah is one of the few places around that still has some kind of personality," says Radioboxer founder and bassist Jota Dazza. "Some people just use it as a punch line for their Cuban jokes, but if they take the time to go around the city, they'll find a well managed city with lots of independent voices and family businesses. I guess what I'm trying to say to those people that look down on Hialeah is: 'Fuck you, fancy pants, Hialeah rocks.'"

But perhaps more importantly (for the sake of this post anyway), he says "When we talk about music in South Florida, leaving Hialeah out of the equation is a huge mistake."

He's absolutely right. Just look at some of the bands to have come out of Hialeah, and never mind those we've already mentioned (Humbert and Radioboxer). In fact, never mind KC and the Sunshine Band. Just take a look at this flyer. Electric Piquete, Low Visibility, Ketchy Shuby. And the list goes on.

"Hialeah Fest started because we realized that there was a large number of Hialeah bands that were all connected and never did shows together," says Coipel. "Like a family that never has BBQ's but all live close by." In Hialeah, perhaps it'd be more fitting to say a family that never roasts piernas (pork shoulder) but all live close by. But I digress. "For us it has always been an honor to say we are a Hialeah band," says Dazza. "We try to let people know in every show that we record and practice in Hialeah and we love the city."

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Hialeah Fest, the longest running yearly event in Churchill's history. And it's not only an outlet for Hialean pride. It's also a fundraiser for charity. The charity in question?  Manos Internacional, "A charity organization 10 years strong headed by a Hialeah boy and dear friend done good, John Alvarez," says Coipel. "They are now a global charity and doing great great things for kids all over the world."

And of the music, he says, "Humbert's set will have new songs. You know we may not be changing the world, but for 15 minutes, we will try and make it feel better. Dale! For all your non-Spanish readers, that last word 'dale' is not the name Dale. It means 'go ahead.'"

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