Simi Valley Dia de los Muertos Festival educates and entertains

Carmen+Gil+dances+with+her+husband+Juan+Gil+during+a+charismatic+folk+dance+at+the+Dia+de+los+Muertos+Festival+in+Simi+Valley+on+Sunday%2C+Oct.+27.+Photo+credit%3A+Ryan+Bough
Back to Article
Back to Article

Simi Valley Dia de los Muertos Festival educates and entertains

Carmen Gil dances with her husband Juan Gil during a charismatic folk dance at the Dia de los Muertos Festival in Simi Valley on Sunday, Oct. 27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Carmen Gil dances with her husband Juan Gil during a charismatic folk dance at the Dia de los Muertos Festival in Simi Valley on Sunday, Oct. 27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Carmen Gil dances with her husband Juan Gil during a charismatic folk dance at the Dia de los Muertos Festival in Simi Valley on Sunday, Oct. 27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Carmen Gil dances with her husband Juan Gil during a charismatic folk dance at the Dia de los Muertos Festival in Simi Valley on Sunday, Oct. 27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Madina Safdari

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The Simi Valley Historical Society and Museum held their fifth annual Dia de los Muertos Festival on Sunday Oct. 27 at Strathearn Historical Park from 2-7 p.m. The day was filled with captivating traditional dances, vendors and face painting.

Event coordinator and director at Strathearn Historical Park, Carolyn Valdez expected about 1000 people to attend the festival.

“We had a great attendance the first year, but I think it was just kind of curiosity. But I think now the community, especially the Latino community does see that we do try and make this event true to the culture, it’s not a pop cultural perception. We try to make it true to the culture and make it an authentic celebration,” Valdez said.

Dia_de_los_Muertos6.jpg

Cecilia Mendes and members of the Ballet Folklorico Fiesta Mexicana perform charismatic folk dances at the Dia de Los Muertos Festival in Simi Valley on Sunday, Oct. 27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

Dia de los Muertos is a two day holiday that originated in Mexico but is celebrated throughout Latin America and in communities all around the world. Traditional customs during Dia de los Muertos include creating altars known as ofrendas, dedicated towards commemorating loved ones who have passed away.

Local families and organizations created personal altars for everyone to see and appreciate. The altars are traditionally decorated with a photo of the person surrounded by Mexican marigolds, calaveras also known as decorative sugar skulls and items that the dead cherished.

“Obviously it’s sad to lose a loved one but death isn’t necessarily feared and dreaded and there’s not that darkness to it. There’s also the aspect of remembering, and this holiday … is remembering your loved ones with altars,” Valdez explained.

The festival’s main events included live music and performances on the center stage. Other areas of the park were dedicated towards arts and crafts, calavera face painting and local vendors.

Dia_de_los_Muertos4.jpg

Gina Martinez and members of Danza Mexica de Ventura demonstrate indigenous Aztec dances at the Simi Valley Dia de los Muertos Festival on Sunday, Oct. 27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The event opened with live music from guitarist Fredy Schiftan and was followed by indigenous Aztec dances courtesy of Danza Mexica de Ventura. The members of Danza Mexica de Ventura, all of whom are volunteers, were dressed in decorative skirts and tunics with bells around their ankles. The group’s leader, Teo Goitia, and a few others wore elaborate headdresses made of colorful feathers.

Dances were performed to the beat of huehuetl, upright Mexican drums, and were not only a preservation of indigenous culture but also honored the dead through movement.

“Everything we do represents something in nature, something on Earth, in the universe. Animals, water, wind, so you see a lot of spins a lot of movements like that,” Goitia elaborated.

Dia_de_los_Muertos2.jpg

Teo Goitia blows into a conch as the volunteers of Danza Mexica de Ventura leave the stage after their indigenous Aztec dances at the Simi Valley Dia de los Muertos Festival on Sunday, Oct. 27. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

The performance was followed by Ballet Folklorico Fiesta Mexicana, who performed charismatic folk dances. The women wore brightly colored ruffled dresses, featuring the colors of the Mexican flag, and men wore black slacks, vests and wide brimmed hats.

Other performers included a Mariachi band and young folklorico dancers following in their parents footsteps.

The day was filled with family friendly fun and attracted Simi Valley residents to learn more about the traditions of Dia de los Muertos.

Simi Valley resident Tara Garner, 38, brought her extended family to the event for the first time.

“I think you always kind of learn something new at these events. I really enjoyed the live music and the culture behind it. That’s why that drum line was really neat, because it’s just so much culture right there,” Garner said.

The festival’s goal was to serve both the Mexican and Latin community by authentically celebrating the holiday, as well as to reach out to the rest of the community to offer a glimpse into the meaning behind the festival.

“I want people to take away a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness … looking at the altars and seeing all the memories,” Valdez said. “Just kind of a full understanding and a feeling of joy you derive from both the altars, the event, and the music and the dancing and everything.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email