Coachella's strategic move towards becoming Mexican culture hub
COACHELLA, Calif., Sept. 24, 2014 — The City of Coachella is making a strategic move to position the city as a major hub for Mexican culture and entertainment in Southern California.
Coachella already draws more than 15,000 people to its annual El Grito / Fiesta Patrias music and cultural event at Rancho Las Flores Park in mid-September, which commemorates the beginning of Mexico’s independence movement from Spain.
The Sept. 14 event, promoted in partnership with the Coachella Chamber of Commerce and Univision Palm Springs, was one of the largest El Grito events in Southern California.
But the city isn’t stopping there.
On Nov. 1 - 2, Coachella will make its inaugural launch of Dia de los Muertos USA, a two-day festival of Mexican music, food and culture unlike any other event in the United States. The event, which celebrates Mexico’s Day of the Dead holiday when families honor their departed loves ones, is expected to draw more than 10,000 attendees. It will take place at Rancho Las Flores Park.
“Dia de los Muertos USA is going to be a signature event for Coachella with two days of live Mexican music, food and unique activities, including mask making and folkloric dance classes,” said Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia.
Dia de los Muertos USA will also have several competitive events, including a Puro Hueso (all bone) parade costume contest, a Pan de Muerto (bread of the dead) contest, as well as a contest for unique face and body painting. Dia de los Muertos will also include one of the biggest lineups of Banda, Mariachi and Norteña music in Southern California.
Festival times will be from 3 pm to 11:30 pm on Saturday, Nov. 1 and 2 pm to 10:30 pm on Sunday, Nov. 2. Sixteen musical groups are scheduled to perform as well as folkloric dance group called Mi Tierra Ballet Folklorico.
Saturday’s lineup includes Conjunto Primavera; Rieleros de Norte; Noel Torres; Banda Machos ; Chicano Batman; Mariachi Los Reyes; and Trio Ellas.
Sunday will feature performances by Los Tucanes de Tijuana; La Santa Cecilia; Vilma y La Sonora; Mariachi Los Reyes; Mariachi Reyna de los Angeles; Mariachi Tierra Querida; and Angeles Ochoa.
Mark Weber, Coachella’s economic development manager, said Coachella is playing to its strengths by developing unique cultural events that highlight the city’s Mexican heritage.
“We have the highest percentage of residents of Mexican descent in the Coachella Valley; a youthful population — the average Coachella resident is 26 — and we have a young and dynamic city council that recognizes the huge marketing potential we have by simply capitalizing on who we are,” Weber said.
“Dia de los Muertos USA,” he added, “is being promoted by the same people that promote Mariachi USA at the Hollywood Bowl. They do an excellent job and we think they will help put us on the map and help establish Coachella as a leading venue for Mexican cultural entertainment in Southern California.”
Weber added that Dia de los Muertos USA complements other Mexican-themed cultural events that take place in Coachella throughout the year. These include:
— El Grito / Fiestas Patrias, the annual day-long event that commemorates the beginning of Mexico’s movement to secure independence from Spain. This year’s event took place from 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 at Rancho Las Flores Park, and drew an estimated 16,250 people from throughout Southern Caliornia.
— Dia de los Muertos at Coachella Valley Cemetery, an annual event organized by Forest Lawn. This year’s event is scheduled for Nov. 1 and features an outdoor religious service at 4 p.m. — with chairs for the first 700 guests. Other activities are also planned, including face painting and an art exhibit, courtesy of Raices Cultura, which will be on display at the Forest Lawn office across the street from the cemetery. Forest Lawn is also providing goodie bags for guests, which will include a Rosary, fresh baked pan de muertos, bottled water, Forest Law pens, and a fresh carnation that guests can place on the community altar or on the grave of a loved one.
— Run with Los Muertos, a 5K event organized by Eventscape, which includes live music and dancing as well as food vendors and a beer garden. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes or t-shirts that honor their loved ones as well as glow-in-the-dark gear. This year’s run will start at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 in front of Coachella City Hall at 1515 Sixth Street.
— Coachella’s annual Cinco de Mayo 5k Event, which includes live music, food and folkloric dancers. The next Cinco de Mayo will take place Saturday, May 2, 2015.
“All of these events are opportunities for us to showcase Mexican music, food and culture, all of which we have in abundance,” Weber said.
He added that Coachella recently established a sister city relationship with Mexicali, Mexico will provide further opportunities not only for entertainment and cultural collaboration, but economic development, including tourism.
The agreement, approved Sept. 10, by the City Council, will also pave the way for tourism and other special events involving the two cities. “We even see the potential for establishing sports and recreational events involving the two cities,” Weber said.