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Food, Music and Fun at Festival de la Familia



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Sacramento, are you ready for a fun-filled day of delicious tacos and carne asada, exciting bachata dancers and beautiful ancient art? The 20th annual Festival de la Familia promises all that and more this Sunday at Cal Expo.

The Festival de la Familia is a cultural extravaganza that pays tribute to the people and cultures of Latin American countries by celebrating their customs and traditions and highlighting the variety of Latin influences within our local community.

“It’s really a celebration where we appreciate other cultures in a safe and family-oriented environment,” said Veronica Delgado, chairwoman for the festival’s Arts and Culture Pavilion.

One of the things the festival is known for is plenty of music, and this year the organizers are going all-out with multiple stages open throughout the day featuring live bands representing a variety of Latin styles and sounds, dance performances, a puppet theater and even salsa lessons from professional dance instructors for anyone who wants to give it a try.

In addition to the many singers, dancers and live bands performing throughout the day, the headliner act of the event will be Sonora Santanera, an iconic musical group from Mexico playing their recognizable topical sound.

“We’re really going to put on a show,” said Susie Cano-Guzman, festival president and food vendor coordinator. “It’s a very fun event.”

The festival will also showcase foods from more than 20 Latin countries, Cano-Guzman said. Food vendors will be set up in booths and walking around with carts offering such treats as paletas (fruit bars), raspados (snowcones) and gazpacho – a specialty from the Michoacan region of Mexico – and much more.

Cano-Guzman said she suggests attendees come hungry, because the food is going to be “phenomenal.”

“There will be fresh, authentic foods from Mexico, El Salvador and Peru,” Cano-Guzman said. “And, new this year, we’ll have Cuban food, too.”

Many local restaurants that have provided food to the festival in past years will be returning this year, including Carmen Taqueria, Baqueros, and Frank Levya’s Xochimilco Mexican Restaurant and Grill.

Not only will there be opportunity to eat plenty of food, but parents and kids will be able to make food, too. Margaret Gomes, chef and nutritional instructor with the Live Food Academy will be on-hand throughout the day teaching how to make healthy food for the family with a simple, fun, hands-on approach.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the “Latin Culture Walk” exhibit in the Arts & Culture Pavilion.

“We’ve really enhanced the arts and culture exhibits this year,” Delgado said. “It will focus on a variety of media, from photography to sculpture to mixed media. It’s just incredible what these artists have put together.”

The pavilion will feature a host of ancient artwork and literary works from Latin people through the ages along with a variety of contemporary art displays and more than 40 local artists will be on-hand to discuss their work and answer questions in this interactive exhibit.

Delgado said local artist, illustrator and photographer Felipe Davalos worked with the artists on the new arts exhibit to direct them in fine-tuning their projects and “helped them create something great for the community.”

Nicole Zamora, festival events chairwoman says the all-day event will also include many activities for children, including arts and crafts activities and a chance to meet the players of Sacramento Gold semi-pro soccer team.

“The players will be out there to show off some drills, play with the kids and take pictures with fans,” Zamora said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone who comes.”

Teddy Herrera, the bicyclist from Elk Grove who just returned from cycling over 11,000 miles across the United States will be on hand at one of the kids’ stations in the Children’s Activities section of the festival talking to kids about health and fitness, and leading kids in games like jumprope and hopscotch.

At one of the many crafts tables available on Sunday, kids will be able to make traditional “papel picado,” bright colorful tissue flags with cut-out designs that are hung on strings to wave in the wind.

“The papel picado are used in many Latin countries for all sorts of festivities,” said Cano-Guzman. “The bright colors add to the environment of celebration.”

Zamora said attendees won’t want to miss the parade featuring dancers, musicians, and performers, which begins at 1:30 p.m. and is a festival highlight for families and children of all ages.

“It’s like a traveling cultural exhibit right before your eyes making its way from one end of the festival to the other,” Zamora said.

Delgado said volunteers, committee organizers and sponsors have all worked closely over the past year in a community effort to get everyone involved in making the event interesting and fun.

“Volunteers are the legs we stand on,” Delgado said.

The all-volunteer event makes use of 400-500 volunteers to help with children’s events, watch the stages and guide people through exhibits. Volunteers are still needed for the day of the event, and anyone interested in helping can sign up online here.

The day’s events start with a Catholic mass at 9 a.m., and then entertainment kicks off at 10 a.m. and continues until the gates close at 6 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $10 for adults, and $7 for seniors 65 and over. Kids 12 and under are free. Discount tickets are also available online here.

For more information, visit the festival’s website at www.festivaldelafamilia.org .