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By Henry A. Barrios/ The Californian
BY MIRANDA WHITWORTH Contributing writer
It's a celebration of Mexican culture, local business and independence as the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce takes over Central Park at Mill Creek for a full day of food, festivities and fun for the family.
The celebration Sunday kicks off the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month and combines three events the chamber historically has held separately: the Consumer Trade Show, salsa cookoff and El Grito de Dolores, a re-enactment honoring Mexican Independence.
The Mexican Independence Day and 19th Annual Consumer Trade Show
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; El Grito de Dolores, 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Central Park at Mill Creek, 600 21st St.
"This is really going to give people a chance to connect with local businesses while enjoying great entertainment, amazing food and historical re-enactments for free."
-- Jay Tamsi, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO
Chamber president and CEO Jay Tamsi knows the schedule is ambitious but hopes the outcome will be worth the effort.
"This is really going to give people a chance to connect with local businesses while enjoying great entertainment, amazing food and historical re-enactments for free. No one has to travel or pick and choose. It's a great opportunity for all of us."
While the event boasts offerings from local food vendors, one of the most exciting items on the menu will be firing up the mouths of attendees and the competitive spirit of salsa aficionados.
"Last year we had dozens of people enter their salsas into competition and we had such a great response we knew we had to bring it back," Tamsi said.
Beyond fiery salsas of every flavor and color, food and beverage vendors and booths representing local businesses, attendees will have the chance to enjoy traditional music and entertainment. Folkloric dancers will perform the vibrant and energetic dances that are a staple of Mexican culture. Live bands with music ranging from traditional mariachi to contemporary Latin beats will take turns on stage as well.
The daylong event comes to a close with El Grito de Dolores, which, though not a literal translation, has come to mean the Cry of Independence in English. The re-enactment will begin at 6 p.m. and honors the call made by Father Hidalgo on Sept. 16, 1810, encouraging the citizens of Mexico to fight for independence against Spanish rule.
Not to be confused with Cinco de Mayo, El Grito is considered Mexico's Independence Day, with celebrations taking place across Mexico and much of the United States, Tamsi said.
"In Mexico City, the president will re-enact 'El Grito' by ringing the bells at the National Palace at midnight. The 'Grito' gives Bakersfield a chance to take part and educate themselves on the importance of this historic moment."
For Tamsi, this is one of the most significant events of the year for cultural education and he hopes attendees will walk away having learned something new.
"This is really about everyone getting to know each other. Whether you are seeing new businesses in the area, trying foods you have never had before or learning about 'El Grito' and Mexico's independence. The more we know about the people around us the more connected we are as a community."