The third annual Ritchie Valens Festival with carnival rides, folk dancers and a musical competition featuring local bands kicks off this evening.
The three-day festival at the Ritchie Valens Recreation Center is sponsored by the city's Recreation and Parks and Cultural Affairs departments and Councilman Richard Alarcon. Admission to the festival is free, but there is a charge for the carnival rides.
Chuck Chaboor, recreation center director, said this year's festival would be the biggest to date.
"All of the bands are from the San Fernando Valley and many are from this area," Chaboor said.
Formerly called Paxton Park, the recreation center is named in honor of singer Ritchie Valens, who grew up in Pacoima. Although he was only 17, Valens already had several hit songs before he was killed along with fellow rock singers Buddy Holly and "Big Bopper" J.P. Richardson, in a 1959 plane crash in Iowa.
The carnival will begin operating at 4 p.m. and the festival officially opens at a 6 o'clock ceremony. From 6 to 11 p.m., the first five bands in the competition will play.