Sueños’ First-Ever Music Festival Celebrates Downtown Reggaeton and Wows Chicago Latinos

DOWNTOWN — Grant Park blared with Reggaeton music this weekend for the first-ever Sueños Fest, celebrating some of Latin music’s hottest acts.

Fans from across the country flocked to the two-day festival headlined by reggaeton legends Wisin y Yandel, J Balvin, Myke Tower and Ozuna. And his focus on Latin music in downtown’s Crown Jewel Park held special significance for Latinos in Chicago.

“I feel like they’re finally acknowledging the Hispanic community — the Latino community — in Chicago,” said Martha Vallejo, who grew up in Pilsen. “… It’s awesome.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans film as Jhay Cortez performs on day two of the inaugural Sueños Music Festival in Grant Park on May 29, 2022.

Vallejo has attended many music festivals in Chicago, but Sueños Fest was the first time she stood in Grant Park surrounded by other Latinos and cheered on Latin music groups.

Berto Aguayo, executive director of the nonviolence nonprofit Raise Peace, was on hand Sunday, singing and dancing alongside friends. The festival, produced by the Lollapalooza and Baja Beach Fest teams, is proof that the city recognizes the impact of Latinos, he said.

“As a young South Side Latino, we could never have a festival in Grant Park and downtown to reflect our culture,” Aguayo said. “But the fact that I’m here with my friends having a great time is a testament to how far we’ve come in accepting Latinos and promoting Latino culture.”

“We are a third of the city[‘s population]“said Aguayo. “And the fact that we’re filling Grant Park and celebrating our ancestry, celebrating our culture, celebrating our music — in such a peaceful and positive way — that’s just one of the ways we can contribute to the city. “

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Dezirae, Miguel and Martha Vallejo dance and sing under the name of Fuerza Regida.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Alex Ibarra holds a Colombian flag with friends as J Balvin headlines day two of the Sueños music festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
J Balvin closes the festival.

The sense of community connectedness extended from the audience to the stage. On Sunday, the performers spoke to the public throughout the hot and sunny day to ensure fans had a safe experience.

Sech and Fuerza Regida interrupted their performances several times to send help to those in need of water and support in the crowd.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Singer Jesús Ortiz Paz waves a Mexican flag as Fuerza Regida performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A fan hands Sech a painting as he plays.

At one point, a group of die-hard fans presented the Panamanian singer with a painting, which he received with a big smile and a hug from the artwork as he continued to sing. Fuerza Regida singer Jesús Ortiz Paz received a Mexican flag and displayed it proudly as he sang.

Along with the music, there were plenty of Chicago-centric activations, from local restaurants to experiences.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
An order of vegan carne asada and tacos al pastor from the vegan restaurant Garfield Ridge Healthy Substance is served on the second day of the festival.

Mariachi Sirenas, Chicago’s first all-girl band, beckoned listeners as they dined at the festival on Sunday.

Mariachi co-founder Ibet Herrera said her band was warmly received by festival-goers, with some even joining in their rendition of “El Rey” by the late and great Vicente Fernández.

“People loved it. We’re like, ‘This is a Reggaeton festival – I don’t know if people are going to dig the mariachi,’ but we forget how much our culture is learning to appreciate our culture again,” Herrera said. “It reminds us why we do what we do.”

See more photos from Sunday at the Sueños Music Festival:

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Wisin and Yandel play.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans erupt in cheers as Fuerza Regida perform.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
J Balvin closes the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Olga Serrano films while Fuerza Regida performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Chicago skyline looms in the background as Lyanno performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Abe and Anabel take a selfie on the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Wendy and Jazmin dance as Fuerza Regida performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Mariachi Sirenas, an all-female mariachi band, take a break to cool off after playing during the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
J Balvin closes the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Jessica Serrato dances as J Balvin headlines the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans pack the park as Jhay Cortez performs on Sunday.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Jhay Cortez performs on day two of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans cheer and watch Sech play.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Wisin Y Yandel will perform on Sunday.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Police in protective gear walk through the park during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Sech performs during day two of the inaugural Sueños Music Festival at Grant Park on May 29, 2022.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A fan holds up his phone with a funny message on the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans line up for security on the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Chicago skyline is reflected in Lyanno’s sunglasses.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans walk past a sign on the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A fan cheers as Jhay Cortez performs.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fans dance to a DJ playing El Alfa during the second day of the festival.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chicago police erected barricades around the park.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Fuerza Regida performs on the second day of the festival.

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David H. Henry