By Crystal Harrell
Celebrate the sights, sounds, and tastes of the state of Jalisco, Mexico at the 8th Annual Taste of Jalisco Festival on February 2 through 4 in downtown Cathedral City, presented by Agua Caliente Casinos. The weekend of fun includes a family-friendly carnival, artisan craft vendor market, tequila tasting competition, and daily entertainment.
Now in its eighth year, Taste of Jalisco Festival celebrates Cathedral City’s Sister City relationship with the City of Tequila in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The festival honors this relationship through music, fashion, culture, spirits, and cuisine. The Sister City relationship was first established in 1996 when the two cities entered into a formal Sister Cities agreement. Since then, exchanges between the Cities included art, culture, governmental best-practices, youth-focused educational opportunities, donation of firefighting equipment, and firefighter training, among others.
“The Taste of Jalisco Festival celebrates the sister city relationship between Tequila Mexico and Cathedral City formed over 25 years ago. There are hints of tradition while celebrating the focus on families and fun over three days. It is hard for me to pick just one favorite aspect of the festival, but my kids’ favorite part is tied between the carnival rides and the Lucha Libre Wrestling. Although my favorite part of the festival may be the food and tequila,” said Steve Clayton, President of Soundskilz and executive producer for Taste of Jalisco Festival.
Festivities kick off Friday, February 2, beginning at 5 p.m. and feature the raising of the flags by Cathedral City Mayor Mark Carnavale, followed by live entertainment with Outlaw Mariachi, plus the opening of the artisan market and carnival. In addition to a giant Ferris wheel offering views of the entire city and surrounding area, the three-day carnival also will feature rides, amusements, and games for all ages, on the festival lawn in front of City Hall.
Attendees will enjoy assorted crafts from a variety of artisans, and a mix of gourmet food trucks. Those 21 and older can enjoy the tequila garden with the official tequila tasting competition taking place on Friday at 7 p.m. A highlight of the weekend will be live wrestling – Legends of Lucha Libra on Saturday and Sunday evenings, followed by popular tribute bands – Dreaming of You Selena, and Carlos Santana Savor the Band.
The festival headliners, Legends of Lucha Libre, take the stage at 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday nights. Lucha Libre has played an important role in Mexican culture since the late 1950s. The sport became famous mainly due to its masked wrestlers, who incorporated their own family traditions, beliefs and fears into the design of their masks, transforming an ordinary person into a fearless character. Since the mid-1990s, Lucha Libre has become a global phenomenon with Lucha stars in every major wrestling company on the planet.
Neighboring Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City will be the site of additional Taste of Jalisco fun. They are hosting the Friday night after-party which begins at 9 p.m. and features the popular Nacho Bustillos accompanied by a full mariachi band. On Sunday, they will host the free car show in the parking lot, which will feature more than 40 cars and trucks from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“This year, with the help of our very generous presenting Sponsor, Agua Caliente Casinos, the festival has doubled its footprint. The carnival has grown by 30-40% with all new rides and the unlimited ride wristbands. Although we do expect lines, we expect to be able to serve more guests,” stated Clayton.
Admission to the festival is pre-sale $4 per person—available online, and $5 at the door (children 5 and under are free). Carnival rides, wrestling show, and food and drink are additional fees. Unlimited carnival ride wristbands start at $25 each and “Legends of Lucha Libre” tickets start at $26. VIP tickets which include exclusive access, premium seating, meet and greet, and other benefits are also available. Tickets for all activities are available at tasteofjalisco.com. Cathedral City residents receive free admission on Friday with a valid driver’s license and utility bill.
“My favorite part of this job is seeing the outcome and the similes on the faces of the guests who attend. They are residents and visitors. They are families and single patrons. They are kids and adults. They come to have fun and celebrate. Doing this for them makes it worth it! We hope to be blessed to be able to serve this community. We hope that the festival continues to grow and expand its presence regionally as a premier festival to kick off the year,” revealed Clayton.
Festival hours are Friday from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. with the carnival starting at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Festivities take place in downtown Cathedral City, at 68600 East Palm Canyon Drive. Parking is free. For tickets and more information about the Taste of Jalisco Festival visit tasteofjalisco.com.