Day of the Dead festival grows in second year




The Garden City Arts is set next weekend to host its second annual Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — Arts festival.

Last year's first annual event was a one-day extravaganza, but this year, Laurie Chapman, executive director of Garden City Arts, made adjustments to accommodate the size of the event and some new activities.

"Last year was a learning experience," Chapman said. "We found out what works and what doesn't work. Having the festival outside doesn't work as well during this time of year."

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrates life and honors loved ones through creative displays and vibrant colors. Skulls and skeletons are utilized to show the absurdity of the human condition and teach children not to fear death.

One of the major adjustments of the local celebration was moving the festival indoors at The American Legion, Harry H. Renick, Post No. 9, located at 405 S. Main St. in the old Armory building.

Chapman said this move provides an environment that's "more conducive to musical performances," creates a dance atmosphere and more room for food vendors.

The other adjustment was presenting an "opening act" for the main attraction next weekend.

A kickoff event was held Friday afternoon with a student writers' workshop and a poetry reading by Jose Faus of the Latino Writers Collective of Kansas City, Mo. The Hot As You Want Salsa Challenge will conclude the preview event from 1 to 3 p.m. today.

Amateur cooks, as well as restaurateurs and professionals chefs, will compete for the top salsa maker in today's salsa challenge. The top prize is $100 for amateurs, and a plaque will be awarded to the top restaurant.

Participants will pay a $25 entry fee and provide one gallon of salsa. Guests can purchase a sampler plate for $5 and help choose the winning entry.

"We're getting our feet wet this week, and we're going to jump in for the big time event week," Chapman said. "Spreading the event out over two weeks presents more opportunities to present more cultural aspects to the community, allow others from out of town to take part in the events and highlight Garden."

The big event will open Friday with artwork to be on display at an exhibit at the GCA Gallery. Residents who come dressed in costume will be judged for most creative attire, and "A King and Queen" will be crowned during the opening ceremonies. There also will be face painting for the children and live musical performances.

Admission to the festival at the Legion is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and the same for children 3 to 12 years old. Wristbands will be available at the main entrance the day of the festival. Events begin at 2 p.m. and conclude at 11 p.m., with musical performances beginning at 6 p.m.

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