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Fiesta for 200 years of Mexican independence

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Thursday marks Mexico’s bicentennial, and Sacramento’s Mexican-Americans are hosting a “MEX 200” party to celebrate those 200 years of independence Saturday in Midtown.

“We’re shutting down 18th Street and Capitol, and we’re going to have stage performances every 30 to 45 minutes from 2-10 p.m.,” said Tatiana Bedoya, founder of Latin Style Events, which is organizing the show.

One of the performers is Mexican-American comedian Willie Barcena.

Barcena said he looks forward to the event as a way to celebrate diversity.

“That’s what makes this country different from the rest of the world,” Barcena said.

Barcena, who has been a comedian for 16 years and spent several years on the air in the mornings at Sacramento’s KSFM 102.5, will be headlining a trio of performers that includes comedians Rick Nájera and Momo Rodríguez.

“I guarantee anybody that comes out to this event, that they’re going to have a good time,” Barcena said. “Even though it’s Mexican Independence Day, it’s really inclusive … I invite everyone to come out and have a good time.”

In addition to the comedians, Bedoya said the event will feature live music and folk dancers – both adult and children.

Four Latino wineries – Rios Wine Co., Borjon Winery, Alex Sotelo Cellars and Campesino Cellars – will also be present.

In keeping with the celebration’s inclusiveness, a fashion show will feature 10 models from different parts of the world wearing designs by Mexican designer Rory Castillo.

No festival would be complete without food, and Bedoya said the Mexican Consulate of Sacramento will be kicking off a three-month campaign called Taste of Mexico at Saturday’s event.

“They’re bringing in a Mexican chef to showcase the produce from Mexico and continue promoting the produce as well,” Bedoya said.

The chef coming to the festival is Roberto González Guzmán, executive chef and owner of Mexico City’s La Fonda San Angel restaurant. He is also vice president of the slow food movement in Mexico and vice president of finance and administration in Mexico’s conservatory of cultural gastronomy.

Providing grilled steak and pork tacos will be Zócalo.

“We’re going to have a grill outside in the street,” said General Manager Noe Hernandez. “Inside the restaurant, we’ll be serving the regular menu.”

Hernandez said there might be a mariachi band in the restaurant as well.

“I’m just looking forward to people having a good time,” Hernandez said, adding that he looks forward to showing that Sept. 16 – not Cinco de Mayo – is Mexico’s independence day.

“It’s going to be a nice party,” he said. “To be able to close the street and go to all the different booths will be nice.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the nonprofit Raices de mi Tierra organization, which preserves and celebrates traditional and contemporary Mexican dance and was founded at Sacramento State in 1995, according to its website.

Tickets to the event, located at 18th and Capitol, are still on sale. General admission is $20, tickets including admission and the “wine walk” are $30 and VIP tickets – which include a special seating area and food and drinks – are $50.

Tickets can be purchased at inticketing.com, and a 30 percent-off code for all but the VIP tickets can be gotten by texting MEX200 to 90210.

“I’m excited that we’re doing something completely different,” Bedoya said. “We want to embrace everybody. It’s not an event for Mexicans. It’s a Mexican Independence Day celebration for everyone in Sacramento.”

Photo 1: Chef Roberto González Guzmán.

Photo 2: Willie Barcena.

Photo 3: Rick Nájera

Photo 4: Momo Rodríguez.

Photos courtesy of Tatiana Bedoya.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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