La Lomita Park at 11417 La Lomita Rd, McAllen was a delightful stop. We arrived unannounced and found Pepe Maldonado sitting outside. He was very gracious and invited us to tour the dancehall and gave us a rundown on what happened inside (and outside) the walls. This is a place dedicated to conjunto music. If you are not familiar with that genre here’s a Wikipedia link to get you up to speed.
Pepe Maldonado is famous in this style of music and is passionate about keeping it alive, hence the creation of La Lomita Park.
He built the entire place, runs the sound board for the visiting bands, plays and sings in his own band (he’s recorded over 20 albums, has played on the White House lawn, and is known coast to coast.) He brags on his daughter, Diana, who runs the kitchen and makes a mean enchilada. A granddaughter runs the website. His son Joe helps run everything. His wife, Irma, takes your money at the door.
The building is about 23 years old and is dedicated to Alfredo De Leon. They have dances on Sunday nights from 6-10 with a $10 cover. Masks are required. It’s BYOB and if you bring food you must share with everyone – that’s one of their rules. We were told the previous evening (we showed up on Monday) they celebrated Mrs. Maldonado’s birthday and there were at least six cakes and hundreds of people. You can find visiting band members signatures on the stars attached at the end of the tables.
The indoor floor is nice. There is also an outdoor dance floor. They will be having a battle of the conjunto bands June 27th between two bands, one inside and one outside. No excuses for not dancing! If you need information about the dances, their number is 956-867-8783.
They have videos on YouTube (search for La Lomita Park and Conjunto is Life.) They’ve been featured in The Texas Bucket List twice. A few weeks prior to our visit Pepe said the fiddler from Tim McGraw’s band visited. There was too much information for me to remember and we were so enthralled with Mr. Maldonado’s stories that I forgot to take notes. Subsequently I did a lot of research after our trip. Please check the links below for more information. Don’t miss the Pepe’s history link!
One of the common messages we found in the Rio Grand Valley area was the welcoming atmosphere and lack of fights at these dance halls. We had a wonderful time visiting with Mr. Maldonado and look forward to coming back and enjoying the music live. Thank you Pepe for letting us get a glimpse of life at La Lomita Park!