Mercado celebrates veterans, military, first responders
Local organizers making ‘Call to Artists’ for next event
The Merced County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce celebrated its Mercado Night event for July with the second annual “Veterans, Military Personnel and First Responder Appreciation Night” last Thursday, July 7, in downtown Merced.
The night opened with the Reveille Bugle and continued with a performance of the Star Spangled Banner by musician Victor Walker on his electric guitar. This was followed by a moment of silence for fallen first responders, veterans and “the people who gave their all for the freedom we enjoy.”
Local vendors, food trucks, community organizations, live entertainment (including a performance from Rhythm Blenders), a car show, and a patriot window contest between local downtown businesses (won by United Way) filled Main Street with plenty of U.S.A. patriotism and celebratory red, white, and blue colors.
“Everyone had a role to do that night,” said Annissa Fragoso, the president of the Hispanic Chamber, explaining that every Mercado night still comes with Chamber duties.
“The Hispanic Chamber sponsored food for veterans and active military personnel, law enforcement, and first responders. They got the choice of having dinner from Simple Sol or tacos from La Patron. We had enough for everyone, and still had some leftovers, so I combed the crowd and started asking the detectives and probation officers to make sure they also had a food ticket, and make sure that all the food was distributed and everyone got their appreciation.”
The July Mercado was part of the bimonthly Mercado Night series put on by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the first Thursday of every other month. The next Mercado Night will be held on Sept. 1 and chaired by Renee Lopez, director at the Hispanic Chamber.
“We’re giving the opportunity for other directors to take the lead in how these Mercados are put on and to allow them a chance to give it their own vision and direct the way they come out.”
The Mercado is also looking for any artists who wish to be a part of the September and November events.
“Where are my artists?” Fragosa exclaimed. “We need artists. Where are my artists and why do they not want to bring their art out to the Mercado. It doesn’t cost them anything. They receive a stipend for their work.”
The open-air art museum that is typically held at Bob Hart Square, and several other locations along Main Street, are reserved exclusively for artists, performers, photographers, and poets. Fragosa is actively encouraging artists of all levels to sign up.
“We want to use this platform to elevate artists, and we are not getting anything. You can be an amateur even if you want to try it for the first time — that’s all right. Let’s have it! This is your opportunity to show your stuff.”