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Mex 200 brings comedy, dancing, heritage to Sacramento

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The streetfront of Zócalo restaurant was transformed into a huge fiesta Saturday, celebrating the food, dance and spirit of Mexico.

Mex 200, commemorating Mexico’s 200 years of independence, was organized by Tatiana Bedoya of Latin Style Events.

“I am proud of everyone who was on that stage tonight,” she said. “Very beautiful, very colorful, and something Sacramento can be proud of, something it deserves.”

The proceeds benefited Raices de Mi Tierra, a folklore dance company that is dedicated to keeping the vibrant heritage and traditions of Mexico alive.

More than a dozen vendors and food stations were involved – everything from beer and wine to baby clothes and Jamba Juice.

Zócalo, one of the big sponsors of the event, coordinated with Taste of Mexico to create steak and pork tacos from specially endorsed product purchased directly from small bakeries in Mexico.

This was the big launch of Taste of Mexico, which will be bringing its new fair-trade brand of food to various Mexican restaurants this fall. They offered samples of shredded chicken marinated with a delicious mole sauce made from imported ingredients and also jars of olives and spices available for sale.

After founding CREA, a non-profit organization aimed at assisting local economies in Mexico, Leticia Jáuregui began Taste of Mexico to promote small Mexican cooperatives by certifying their product with the FDA and exporting it to the United States.

“We’re really happy to help small bakeries of mostly women get a chance to sell their products to a bigger market and support them in the future,” Jáuregui said.

Zócalo head chef Ryan Rose was busy keeping up with the line outside of his tent, flipping tortillas on the grill, using ingredients certified by Taste of Mexico.

“I’m always proud to promote Mexican cooking,” he said.

Carlos González Gutiérrez, the Consul General of Mexico in Sacramento, made an appearance to help promote Taste of Mexico.

“This is an important campaign that will bring products from Mexico that you don’t normally see,” he said. “Something like this was called for to celebrate 200 years of California and Mexico’s history, and to celebrate independence.”

Event hosts Gabriel Vivas and Jacquelyn Guardado helped move the evening along as bands, dancers, comedians and even the Sacramento Mountain Lion cheerleaders took the stage and wowed the audience.

Vivas, a longtime friend of Tatiana Bedoya, said he’s been involved with many nonprofit organizations in the past, but Mex 200 was “the first of its kind.”

“This is a unique celebration 200 years in the making,” he said.

Guardado, known from the Ice House Comedy Club in Pasadena and The Latinologues invited three other comedians from Southern California to be a part of the event. She and Vivas shared good chemistry on stage joking with the performers, and they made sure to remind the audience of what good causes they were promoting.

Willie Barcena, Rick Nájera and Momo Rodríguez ended the evening with stand-up routines that had the late-night audience roaring with laughter. Their Latin-themed routines poked fun at everything from obnoxious uncles to childbirth to old people in Vegas.

Three bands brought their distinct music to the event, beginning with the alternative rock band Diciembre Gris, who is currently nominated for a Sammy. They brought enough energy to get a few people dancing.

The next band to take the stage was La Descarga, a quartet with two sets of drums, guitar and keyboard that played Cuban beats as the sun began to set.

Lastly, the Sacramento Mariachi Nuevo Continental group brought authentic music and charm to the evening with a fantastic show of violins, trumpets and the occasional chant of “Viva Mexico!”

Dance was another main part of the event, with performances by the Folklorico Kids and Raices de Mi Tierra from the Sacramento Cultural Arts Center. Both astounded with festive, colorful dances and a truly authentic display of Mexican history.

Emilio Ruiz, a past choreographer from Raices de Mi Tierra, explained how each dance was “a representation of the 31 states of Mexico, which each have their own unique culture.”

Rory Castillo brought out the red carpet to show some of his new fashion designs that captured the spirit of Mexico with color and class. With designs ranging from floral skirts to bright red dresses, the crowd quickly gathered to get a look at the wonderful clothing and the beautiful women who modeled them.

“I wanted to make people view Mexican fashion in a new way.” Castillo said. “I wanted to move away from the stereotypes and bring variety to the stage.”

For those who preferred to walk among the vendors rather than sit before the stage, there was plenty for them to see.

La Fina Cocina owner Rose Mendoza was selling sculptures, hand-painted boxes, plates, cups and handbags, most of which were made in Mexico.

“Young people, third and fourth generations who are disconnected from culture, come in and see these things and suddenly feel proud of their origins,” she said.

Josie Montano, owner of Cholo Baby, had clothing on display embroidered with Spanish terms of endearment, like peditos (“little feet”) and frijolitos (“little farts”). Montano co-created the idea with her daughter, Rebecca Vazquez, who wanted clothing for her newborn that could encompass her culture.

Borjon Winery, Alex Sotelo Cellars, Campesino Cellar and Rios Wine Co. were giving wine tastings throughout the evening while a Budweiser van sold Corona and other cold beers.

The fun-filled event ended at 10 p.m. when Vivas joked about Bedoya: “The big punchline of the night is that it took a Colombian to organize a Mexican festival!”

 

Photographs:

1. Mex 200 Banner
2. Leticia Jáuregui and Roberto Ramirez Roja promoting Taste of Mexico
3. A photo of the crowd
4. The Sacramento Mountain Lions cheerleaders
5. Diciembre Gris
6. Dancers from Raices de Mi Tierra
7. Young dancing girls from Folklorico Kids
8. Carlos González Gutiérrez, the Consul General of Mexico in Sacramento
9. The steak/pork tacos made by Zócalo
10. Zócalo head chef Ryan Rose
11. La Descarga
12. Hosts Gabriel Vivas and Jacquelyn Guardado
13. Rory Castillo with a few models
14. Sacramento Mariachi Nuevo Continental
15. More dancing from Raices de Mi Tierra
16. Momo Rodríguez
17. Rick Nájera
18. Willie Barcena
 

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