Summer Fires Up in Oxnard with the 22nd Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival!

stomach arial,sans-serif;”>The City of Oxnard is once again gearing up to offer spicy and fiery fun and entertainment during the 22nd Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival taking place July 25 & 26, 2015. The annual festival is a celebration of everything salsa — the music, the food and the dance. Presented by the Oxnard Downtowners, this award-winning, family-friendly festival features many of Southern California’s most electrifying salsa and Latin bands, non-stop salsa dancing, marketplace shopping, the fiery Salsa Tasting Tent, international foods, an expanded Kids Korner, a recipe contest and salsa dance performances. Festival admission and parking are free. No pets or coolers are permitted on-site. www.oxnardsalsafestival.com

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The Fun Begins Friday Night

The celebration starts with a Friday Night Kick-off Concert (paid concert) on July 24 featuring Oscar Hernandez and Alma Libre with special guest, Justo Almario, playing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. salsa.stageHernandez is considered to be one of the most gifted and prominent pianist/arrangers on the contemporary Latin, Latin jazz and Salsa music scene! Tickets for the Friday night concert seating are $15 per person and can be purchased on-site. Groups of six can pre-order reserved tables for $120, which seat six, on the festival website. Come early to dine in downtown Oxnard, or bring a picnic to enjoy al fresco. The gates open at 6 p.m.

Sizzling Salsa Bands

Six hot bands entertain festival-goers this year! The Festival’s Main Stage entertainment runs continuously from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, July 25 & 26. Orquesta Rumbankete, known for their explosive rhythm section, powerful trombones and energetic vocal delivery, kick off the celebration on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Next at 2 p.m., Son Mayor take to the stage performing their unmistakable vintage and contemporary Cuban sounds leaving the audience asking for more. Closing on Saturday is Carlo Lopez and the Echo Park Project, bringing legendary NYC style salsa to Southern California. Their set begins at 4:45 p.m.

Sunday’s celebration ignites with Conjunto Oye!, an 11-piece band specializing in classic Nuyorican salsa. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sabor De Mi Cuba, entertain the crowd with their Afro-Cuban roots influenced by world music. The 12-piece ‘Big-Band’ orchestra, Tabaco y Ron close out the Festival with their high energy, hard-edged brand of salsa music.

Salsa Dance Shows

The Community Dance Showcase will feature performances from Ventura County and Santa Barbara dance companies, plus winning couples from the Borderline Salsa Dance Competition coordinated by Conrad Diaz and the Salsa Dance Competition at La Fonda del Rey coordinated by Jesse “Chuy” Rodriguez. Other performances include the Tumbao dance competition at the Greek at the Harbor coordinated by Eric Parsons.  On Sunday, local community leaders are paired up with the region’s best salsa instructors to dance for charity during the Dancing with Our Community Stars Dance Contest & Charity Fundraiser, sponsored by the Kitchen Restaurant. Patterned after ABC’s hit TV show, this salsa-twist version is a highlight of the Festival weekend. In the past five years, the fundraiser has generated approximately $650,000 for local charities.

Great Oxnard Salsa Challenge Recipe Contest

Salsa lovers can put their creations to the test by entering the annual recipe contest dubbed The Great Oxnard Salsa Challenge. The Challenge gets underway on Sunday morning, July 26. Judging begins at 11 a.m. followed by the announcement of the winners at 1 p.m. from the Main Stage. Winning salsas will be selected in several categories including best red, best green, best mild, best medium, best fruit and best hot! First place category winners receive a Festival ‘goodie bag’ and a $30 restaurant gift certificate from the Kitchen Eatery, a Downtown Oxnard restaurant, which was featured on ‘Diners, Drive-ins & Dives’ with Guy Fieri on The Food Network. The Judge’s Choice Winner for ‘best of the best’ will also be awarded with a $100 cash prize from the Oxnard Salsa Festival. Pre-registration ($25) by July 10 is required. Entry form is online at www.oxnardsalsafestival.com.

Kids Korner with Tortilla Art

Endless hours of fun await kids at this year’s Kids Korner, expanded this year with additional activities. Oxnard’s own Art & Music Factory allows kids to get creative in their arts & crafts booth, salas.tastingusing real tortillas provided courtesy of Mission Foods. Led by Gloria Hidrogo, a graduate of Bellas Artes in Mexico, children can paint on tortillas or create tortilla flower necklaces. Kids can also get their bodies moving with a variety of inflatables, including a traditional ‘bounce house’, plus a giant maze and slide for the younger kids. This year, a mechanical jet ride and interactive games have been added in for more fun! Older kids can have fun conquering the climbing wall with the reward of experiencing a view of the Festival from high above!

Festival Marketplace Food & Shopping

Festival goers will find a wide assortment of international foods and shopping opportunities in the Festival Marketplace, filled with over 150 food, craft, gourmet sauce and retail exhibitors. Hand-crafted jewelry, salsas and spices, potted succulents, Mexican pottery, clothing, fashion, accessories, toys, garden art, Latin American imports and baked goods are offered by vendors in the park and surrounding streets. Some 25 new vendors have been added this year offering a variety of wares from apparel to accessories to jewelry and more! Two food courts feature authentic Mexican tacos, fish tacos, fresh shrimp cocktails, tortas, empanadas, freshly made spiral, ribbon fries, nachos, roasted corn, kettle corn and other festival favorites.

Salsa Tasting Tent Experience

An estimated 60,000 samples of specialty salsas will be dished up by local restaurants, Mexican markets and gourmet salsa vendors inside the Festival’s big-top Salsa Tasting Tent. Whatever one’s salsa preference … fresh & fruity, hot & smoky, sweet & spicy or extremely hot … it’s all available under one roof. The Festival will showcase 15 different exhibitors in the tent, including local restaurants, gourmet salsa purveyors and specialty grocers. Tent admission is $5 per person, which includes freshly made Mission Foods tortilla chips and ten tasting tickets! The adjacent Salsa Cantina provides the perfect “cooling off” stop for burning tongues, with ice-cold beer and wine margaritas for sale.

Reserved Seating

There are two different ways for festival goers to get closer to the music – Reserved seating and Club Salsa, offered again this year. Reserved tables are available on the west side of the stage with a table for six and an umbrella for shade. Club Salsa is located on the east side of the stage complete with tables, umbrellas plus its own private dance floor! Ticket information and reservations can be found online.

A Community Effort

Twenty-two years ago, the idea for an Oxnard Salsa Festival was brought to fruition by a group of downtown merchants with a desire to celebrate Oxnard’s multicultural flavors and agricultural roots. As the popularity of salsa music and dance increased, and salsa emerged as the number one condiment in America (beating out ketchup), the Oxnard Salsa Festival evolved into a celebration of salsa food, music and dance. Today, the Salsa Festival is Oxnard’s largest free community event, drawing nearly 50,000 people every summer.

Behind the scenes, festival organizers, volunteers, downtown advocates, and event sponsors work countless hours to create this top-notch festival for the community to embrace.

The 22nd Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival is presented by the Oxnard Downtowners, and sponsored by Gold Coast Broadcasting, Bud Light, Mission Foods, Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau, Ventura County Star, and many other generous community partners.

Getting to the Festival – by Car or Train

Oxnard is located just 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Santa Barbara. Visitors can travel to the Oxnard Salsa Festival by train, car, or bus. The Oxnard Transportation Center is conveniently located just three short blocks from the festivities at Plaza Park. Festival goers can save on gas and start the fun early by taking the train! The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner travels between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. Kids, ages 2 to 15 ride for ½ the fare when accompanied by a paid adult. And seniors receive a 15% discount for ages 62 and over.

For out-of-towners planning to attend the Oxnard Salsa Festival, why not make a weekend out of it? Oxnard’s on-the-coast location makes for an ideal summer getaway. With two or more days in Oxnard, Festival-goers can enjoy a day at the beach, bike riding at the harbor, sport fishing, golf or even the Dallas Cowboys Training Camp in addition to all of the salsa festivities. Oxnard hotel options range from mid-priced rooms to oceanfront and seaside settings. For a listing of hotels and visitor attractions, visit www.visitoxnard.com or call the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-2-Oxnard. For Festival info call 805-535-4060, or visit www.oxnardsalsafestival.com

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