If you're looking for a family fun atmosphere, then you'll want to attend Jardín del Arte Community Festival put on by UTPA's Festival of International Books and Arts. FESTIBA is an annual week-long event held on the UTPA campus to bring attention to the importance of reading in the Rio Grande Valley community by both children and adults. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with this week's News Center 23 report.
It's not often Valley children get to meet real, respected authors and scholars, but this month, many of them will have that opportunity thanks to UTPA's annual FESTIBA. The Festival of International Books and Arts sends several renowned writers to public schools to visit with students and sign and distribute their books. Organizers say the week-long event is designed to increase interest in reading and improve success rates in secondary and postsecondary education. It's also about promoting cultural awareness and celebrating the arts and humanities.
Dahlia Guerra/College of the Arts and Humanities Dean, "Throughout the week we bring scholars, we bring authors, we send them out to the public schools. We share the love of reading with students and their parents. This is about early childhood reading as well as adult reading, it's throughout people's lives, the importance of literacy is what is stressed during FESTIBA."
This year's FESTIBA theme is "Literacy: Inspiring Healthy Minds and Healthy Bodies." Among the special guests are Olympic gold medal winner Brenda Villa, Valley native and NFL player with the Chicago Bears Roberto Garza and award winning RGV executive chef Jesse Castellon of the International Culinary Institute who will share healthy eating tips with GEAR UP students. Other highlights include an academic conference, performances by Valley mariachi students featuring Grammy-nominated Mariachi Sol De Mexico and the UTPA Symphony Orchestra led by internationally recognized music conductor Alondra de la Parra. Other activities throughout the week include presentations in dance, music and poetry, several exhibits featuring leading artists from Mexico, a Congressional Roundtable on Hispanic Literacy for librarians and a mariachi competition. On Friday, March 22, FESTIBA is holding its annual Jardin del Art Community Festival at the Edinburg City Hall Courtyard. The festivities are free for everyone to enjoy.
Dalila Guerra/College of Arts and Humanities Dean, "We'll have games and events for the students to read books. Authors will be signing their books...We'll have zumba dancing. We'll have meet the Broncs and just a variety of different artists and food vendors. It's a wonderful afternoon about fun with your family but most of all stressing the importance of literacy."
Super: www.utpa.edu/festiba/ 
For more information log on to www.utpa.edu/festiba.I'm  Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.