Singers, dance performers, vendors, and artists were out showcasing Hispanic pride in and around Bob Hart Square last Friday, Oct. 18. The event titled “Celbrando Nuestra Cultura” highlighted the important presence the Hispanic culture has in Merced and honored Hispanic Heritage month. The event was sponsored by the Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union and Gottschalks Music Center, and organized by the Merced Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Building Healthy Communities Merced, and Merced Latinx209.
“In the current political environment where it feels as though our country is more divided than ever, it’s encouraging, welcoming and appreciated to see our small community come together to recognize the diversity within Merced,” said Veronika Rodriguez, a Merced native.
Main Street was closed for the event K to M streets, allowing event goers an opportunity to enjoy a car show, live music, dancing, a live canvas mural, crafting, and a great time to socialize and enjoy the many food and shop vendors that filled the streets.
Food vendors sold grilled corn, tacos, fresh fruit waters, and churros, while a range of shop vendors sold traditional skull figurines, dresswear, accessories, and trinkets.
Happy Organics, a local hemp-derived CBD business featuring infused honeys, chocolate, and massage oils, and balms was out on display, introducing eventgoers to new products in pain relieving. Jessica Gonzalez, the founder of Happy Organics, was happy to showcase her products alongside other shop owners. Her new Mexican hot chocolate tonics where featured in the shape of sugar skulls, adding a fun twist to the regular shape of the yummy dessert.
To start the evening, singers and local artists took the stage, filling Main Street with rhythmic music, influencing onlookers to break out into dance. Soon later, foklorico dancers made their way to the stage, twisting and spinning, showcasing the beautiful colors of their dresses. A series of traditional dancers followed including Aztec dances and a performance from Banda El Desquite, a local band composed of members from Delhi.
A live canvas was painted throughout the evening by Modesto artist Jorge Gomar. Gomar heard of the festival from a friend and decide to contribute to the celebration of Hispanic heritage. He spraypainted a traditional Mexican sugar skull, representative of Dia de los Muertos, smoking a cigar with orange flower petals surrounding him.
“For sure I’ll be coming out to do more art projects,” Gomar said of his time in Merced.