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Hundreds Descend on Downtown Oxnard for The 20th Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival

By Peggy Hunt

OXNARD — Twenty years ago, the idea for an Oxnard Salsa Festival was brought to fruition by a group of downtown merchants with a desire to celebrate Oxnard’s multicultural flavors and agricultural roots.

Juan Gonzalez and Diane Tere Porter won first place.

On July 27th and 28th, hundreds descended on Plaza Park for the 20th Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival to celebrate everything salsa – the food, the music, and the dance. You could taste it, you could dance it, and you could even take it home.

The award winning, family friendly festival featured Southern California’s most electrifying Latin bands, salsa dance performances, marketplace shopping, international foods, Kids Korner activities, a recipe contest and the spicy Salsa Tasting Tent.

One of the festival’s highlights was the professional and amateur divisions salsa making contest with submission of salsa recipes ranging from spicy to sweet. Judging takes place two weeks preceding the festival and category winners earn bragging rights for the entire year regarding their original creations. During the ‘2013 Great Oxnard Salsa Challenge’ professional salsa makers heated up the competition and took home top honors. The winners were: Best Red, Cabo Seafood Grill & Cantina; Best Green, Tacos Don Chente; Best Specialty/Fruit, The Kitchen; Best Hot, Cabo Seafood Grill & Cantina; Best Medium, Vallarta; Best Mild, BG’s Café; Judge’s Choice, Cabo Seafood Grill & Cantina; and People’s Choice, BG’s Cafe.

Dancers Joe Schroeder and Christina Maggio

The Amateur Division Winners were: Best Red, Christopher Romo, Santa Barbara; Best Green, Raymond Andrews, Ventura; Best Specialty/Fruit, Dee Johnson, Oxnard; Best Hot, Jose Rivera, Oxnard; Best Medium, George Thingili, Simi Valley; Best Mild, Mark Litwinczyk, Ventura; and Judge’s Choice, Christopher Romo, Santa Barbara.

Another highlight was the popular ‘Dancing With Our Community Stars’, a dance contest for charity. This year’s dancers were: Joe Schroeder, Christina Maggio, Margie Cochrane, Jesse Rodriguez, Mary Pinto Casillas, Ricky Campos, Terrance Dixon, Kristi Kellogg, Juan Gonzalez and Diane Tere Porter.
“We [have] 60,000 foodies from the area and around the county over this weekend,” explained Pablo Ortiz, Master of Ceremonies for the festival. “We’ve transformed Oxnard from being known as a place with a great farmland to a destination that celebrates great salsa.”

The Oxnard Salsa Festival is Oxnard’s largest, free community event and is a weekend of sharing culture, lifestyle, food, music and breathtaking dance performances.

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