San Pancho’s Music Festival began in 2001 with village residents John & Patricia Alexander when they invited 12 musicians to join their informal jam sessions on their back porch. It was a festive gathering and enjoyed by all. The following year some of the key players suggested to John that they gather again, and invite a few others known to have musical talents. With time word spread throughout the village and others wanted to participate. John and Patricia welcomed anyone wanting to play.
By 2006 116 performers were entertaining themselves over the course of three days in the Alexander backyard. Andy Crawford, a professional jazz bassist from Illinois, began assisting in 2003 with the organization of the event, coordinating the required technology, working with Spanish officials, and translating when necessary. Andy has been acting as the sound engineer ever since, and continues to perform during the Festival with a variety of the artists. The father/son combination of Beto and Carlos Gonzalez, who have been active since the Festival’s inception, have also become integral to the organization of the Festival by scheduling and working with many of the regional performers. Their family has performed for many years, and they continue to entertain the crowd with traditional Mexican ballads and songs.
In 5 short years the event had evolved into the beginnings of a music festival – it was firmly rooted into the local civic and cultural conscience of San Pancho. The general public and seasonal tourists began discovering the event, and it expanded progressively until the festival began to outgrow the intimate surroundings of the Alexander home. It was apparent that a new and larger venue would eventually be needed for the event.
Eventually John and Patricia moved on, and turned the organization of the festival over to Craig Schumacher, an internationally known music producer and professional musician. Craig relocated the Festival to Plaza del Sol in 2007, providing attendees more comfortable seating space for chairs and coolers. It also allowed local restaurants and merchants to offer food and beverages for sale throughout the performances so the audience could dine without having to leave the ongoing entertainment.
In 2011, the Music Festival discovered it was short on funds to provide quality lighting during the evening performances. For the first time in the history of the Festival donations were asked of the audience. The generous contributions during the Friday show allowed the Festival to acquire all the necessary equipment for the remainder of the weekend performances. The remaining funds were used to acquire lights for future events and to apply toward expanded marketing of the 2012 Music Festival.
This set back resulted in the formation of a committee in 2011 to better organize and direct the future evolution of the Festival. It included some of the original participants of the Festival who were devoted to better insuring a level of entertainment quality in the future. The committee is also dedicated to maintaining the original philosophy of it’s founders by offering performances to the public free of charge. This accomplishment is only possible due to the gracious donations of time and performances by the artists, and through the support and help by the generous residents of San Pancho. Thus the Music Festival has evolved from a back yard venue of self-entertainment to a community endeavor that ultimately hi-lights San Pancho as the “Cultural Heartbeat of the State of Nayarit”.