Days of the Vaqueros in Old Town San Diego!

Two vaqueros chat during an event in Old Town San Diego that reenacts aspects of Californio history.
Two vaqueros chat during an event in Old Town San Diego that reenacts fascinating Californio history.

I enjoyed the Trades That Shaped the West event in Old Town San Diego last Saturday so much, I decided to return today to experience another Stagecoach Days event: Days of the Vaqueros!

Days of the Vaqueros invited curious visitors to experience what life was like when San Diego was a part of Mexico. The emphasis was on the vaqueros–the first true cowboys. During the era of the Californios, wealthy ranch owners employed vaqueros to manage their stock.

For a couple of decades–from the early 1820s to the mid-1840s–cattle hides were the primary export of Alta California. Merchant ships from the East Coast (and other places about the Pacific Ocean) would trade the plentiful hides for finished goods that were in high demand in early, geographically isolated, sparsely populated towns like San Diego.

Someone reads Days of the Vaqueros sign on the Robinson Rose House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Someone checks out Days of the Vaqueros activities. The banner hangs on the Robinson Rose House in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Taking place during Old Town's summer Stagecoach Days, today's event celebrated life in San Diego when the small town and surrounding area was part of Mexico.
Taking place during Old Town’s summer weekend Stagecoach Days, today’s event celebrated life in San Diego when the small town and Alta California were part of Mexico.
Ladies in period dresses at the Days of the Vaqueros event in Old Town San Diego.
Ladies pass by in period dresses. One of many cool sights at the Days of the Vaqueros event in Old Town San Diego.
Tables contained information about life during the era of huge Mexican land grant cattle ranches worked by vaqueros. Vaqueros, the first cowboys, were mostly indigenous people employed to manage cattle by the wealthy land owners.
Tables contained information about life during the era of huge Mexican land grant ranches worked by vaqueros. Vaqueros, the first true cowboys, were mostly indigenous people employed to manage cattle by the wealthy land owners.
A vaquero shows a visitor to Old Town how to properly handle a rope.
A vaquero shows a visitor to Old Town how to properly handle a rope.
The visitor successfully lassoes his cow--the rear end, that is--first try!
The visitor successfully lassoes his cow–the rear end, that is–first try!
A gentleman who used to work for Buck Knives makes unique knife handles with elk antlers. He has developed his own technique, which takes great skill and precision.
A gentleman who used to work for Buck Knives makes unique knife handles out of elk antlers. He has developed his own technique, which takes great skill and precision.
A hat maker shows how beaver felt material was steamed then pushed over a hat-form block.
A hat maker shows how beaver felt material was steamed then pushed over a hat-form block.
What's cooking on the campfire? Some tasty pozole, I was told!
What’s cooking on the campfire? Some tasty pozole, I was told!
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, made from hominy, meat and various vegetable seasonings.
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup or stew, made from hominy, meat and various vegetable seasonings.
Preparing eggs for the cascarón. Near the end of a fiesta Californios flirted by cracking eggs filled with scented water or confetti over the startled head of someone they liked.
Decorating eggshell cascarones. Near the end of a fiesta, Californios flirted by cracking eggs filled with scented water or confetti over the startled head of someone they liked.
A group called Los Californios played authentic early California music--tunes that were preserved over a century ago on wax cylinder sound recordings made by Charles Lummis.
A group called Los Californios played authentic early California music–tunes that were preserved over a century ago on wax cylinder sound recordings made by Charles Lummis.
A couple dances to the happy, gentle music.
A couple dances to the happy, gentle music.
Publications by a project called San Diego Friends of Old Time Music. Author Vykki Mende Gray is helping to preserve the musical history of California.
Publications by a nonprofit project called San Diego Friends of Old Time Music. Author Vykki Mende Gray is helping to preserve the musical history of California.
A display of braided ropes and cut rawhide, once commonly used by vaqueros as they worked on the large cattle ranches around San Diego.
A display of braided ropes and rawhide, once commonly used by vaqueros as they worked on the large cattle ranches around San Diego.
On this table I see more ropes, a canteen, iron brands and boot spurs.
On this table I see more ropes, a canteen, iron brands and boot spurs.
A gentleman who teaches students visiting Old Town about history holds up an illustration of bear-baiting, which early Californians found entertaining.
A gentleman who teaches school students visiting Old Town about history holds up an illustration of bear-baiting, which early Californians found entertaining.
These guys were making adobe bricks. I learned earth and water are mixed, and straw or manure are often added for strength and cohesion.
These guys were making adobe bricks. I learned earth and water are mixed, and straw or manure are often added for strength and cohesion.
These authentic adobe bricks take weeks or months to properly dry. When hard, they'll possibly be used in new construction or restored exhibits at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Authentic adobe bricks take weeks or months to properly dry. When hard, these bricks will possibly be used in new construction or to restore existing exhibits inside Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Traditional dancing in the courtyard of Casa de Estudillo of Los Camotes (which translates the sweet potatoes), a tune from Mexican and Spanish California.
Traditional dancing in the courtyard of Casa de Estudillo of Los Camotes (which translates the sweet potatoes), a tune from old Mexican and Spanish California.

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History at the Los Peñasquitos adobe ranch house.

Jogging and biking past the historic adobe ranch house in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.
Jogging and biking past the historic adobe ranch house in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve.

The second oldest residence in San Diego County can be found inside Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. The adobe ranch house was built in 1823 by Captain Francisco María Ruiz, who was Commandante of San Diego’s presidio. He built two small adobe buildings on Rancho Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, his large 8,486-acre Mexican land grant north of the Presidio and Mission San Diego de Alcalá. It was first land grant made by the Mexican government in this area, just two years after Mexico became independent from Spain.

The historic adobe ranch house has been modified, enlarged and restored by various owners over the years, and today is a popular destination for visitors to Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. People often bike or hike through the picturesque ranch, and motorists can park in a nearby lot. Picnic tables are plentiful; there are goats and chickens to captivate children; and guided tours are available on weekends.

I toured the ranch recently and took photos of its various features. There are a variety of interpretive exhibits within the adobe house. Please read these informative displays (click to enlarge the images) to learn more about this fascinating place’s long and colorful history.

(What is the oldest structure in San Diego County? You’ll be completely surprised! I blogged about that here.)

The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Guided tours are at 11:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday.
The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Guided tours are at 11:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday.
The ranch house is nestled among some shady trees. Two small adobe buildings were originally built in 1823. The house was enlarged by Captain George Alonzo Johnson in 1862.
The ranch house is nestled among some shady trees. Two small adobe buildings were originally built in 1823. The house was enlarged by Captain George Alonzo Johnson in 1862.
Plaque describes the establishment of the Johnson-Taylor Adobe Ranchhouse in 1862. The residence and later additions were used as a hotel, bunkhouse, and quarters for a working cattle ranch into the 1960s.
Plaque describes the establishment of the Johnson-Taylor Adobe Ranchhouse in 1862. The residence and later additions were used as a hotel, bunkhouse, and quarters for a working cattle ranch into the 1960s.
A sculpture inside the courtyard, located on the east side (rear) of the ranch house. The planters were probably used to grow herbs and flowers.
A sculpture inside the courtyard, located on the east side (rear) of the ranch house. The planters were probably used by the residents to grow herbs and flowers.
Part of the ranch house's long porch beside the courtyard.
Part of the ranch house’s long porch beside the courtyard.
Inside a room that contains museum-like exhibits, looking north out a window at various small structures on the ranch, including a chicken coop and goat pen.
Inside a living room that today contains museum-like exhibits, looking north out a window at various small structures on the ranch, including a chicken coop and goat pen.
The Californio Period, 1821 to 1850, included vaqueros (cowboys) living at Peñasquitos. The American Rancher Period, 1850-1970, began after California became a state.
The Californio Period, 1821 to 1850, included vaqueros (cowboys) living at Peñasquitos. The American Rancher Period, 1850-1970, began after California became a state.
1823-1834 timeline of the Mexican land grant of Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, that was made to Captain Francisco María Ruiz.
1823-1834 timeline of the Mexican land grant of Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos, that was made to Captain Francisco María Ruiz.
In 1859 Captain George Alonzo Johnson married Maria Estéfana Alvarado, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado, who bought the ranch from Ruiz in 1837.
In 1859 Captain George Alonzo Johnson married Maria Estéfana Alvarado, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado, who bought the ranch from Ruiz in 1837.
A hand blown and painted glass pitcher and drinking glass that belonged to Maria de Jesus Alvarado de Sepulveda, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado.
A hand blown and painted glass pitcher and drinking glass that belonged to Maria de Jesus Alvarado de Sepulveda, daughter of Francisco María Alvarado.
The large earthenware olive jar was found under the ranch house floor during an excavation in 1983. Used for food storage, it was probably made in Spain or Portugal in the early to mid 1700s.
The large earthenware olive jar was found under the ranch house floor during an excavation in 1983. Used for food storage, it was probably made in Spain or Portugal in the early to mid 1700s.
Captain George Alonzo Johnson, a pioneer and businessman, came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He became a rancher and horse breeder.
Captain George Alonzo Johnson, a pioneer and businessman, came to California in 1849 during the Gold Rush. He became a rancher and horse breeder.
Historical newspaper articles describe the ranch house, outbuildings and grounds of George Alonzo Johnson's ranch.
Historical newspaper articles describe the ranch house, outbuildings and grounds of George Alonzo Johnson’s ranch.
Floor plan of Rancho Peñasquitos from 1975 HABS survey.
Floor plan of Rancho Peñasquitos from 1975 HABS survey.
A drawing of the Los Peñasquitos residence of Colonel Jacob Shell Taylor, who purchased the property in 1882. He raised Durham cattle and thoroughbred horses and would found Del Mar.
A drawing of the Los Peñasquitos residence of Colonel Jacob Shell Taylor, who purchased the property in 1882. He raised Durham cattle and thoroughbred horses and would found Del Mar.
Various branding irons on display in the adobe house that were discovered around the ranch. Included are early Spanish irons used by rustlers.
Various branding irons on display in the adobe house that were discovered around the ranch. Included are early Spanish irons used by rustlers.
Rancho Peñasquitos courtyard photo taken circa 1889, showing ranch employee H. T. Sandford and his family.
Rancho Peñasquitos courtyard photo taken circa 1889, showing ranch employee H. T. Sandford and his family.
Photo of the San Diego-Escondido Stage Line circa 1906. In the mid-1800s Peñasquitos was a way station on the wagon road between San Diego and Warner's Ranch.
Photo of the San Diego-Escondido Stage Line circa 1906. In the mid-1800s, Peñasquitos was a way station on the wagon road between San Diego and Warner’s Ranch.
Porch along the front (or west) side of the adobe ranch house, which faced the so-called Road to Yuma.
Porch along the front (or west) side of the adobe ranch house, which faced the so-called Road to Yuma.
I spotted someone riding a horse past the ranch house. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is an ideal place for those who love to ride down peaceful trails.
I spotted someone riding a horse past the ranch house. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is an ideal place for those who love to ride down peaceful trails.
Looking west at a meadow north of Peñasquitos Creek. I posted photos of those sycamores in the distance a few weeks ago.
Looking west at a meadow north of Peñasquitos Creek. I posted photos of those sycamores in the distance a few weeks ago.
An artificial pond south of the ranch house was filled with water from the nearby spring house for irrigation of a nearby grove.
An artificial pond south of the ranch house was filled with water from the adjacent spring house for irrigation of a nearby citrus grove.
The rock Spring House was constructed around an artesian spring. Water from the spring was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for as many as 12,000 years!
The rock Spring House was constructed around an artesian spring. Water from the spring was used by the Native American Kumeyaay for as many as 12,000 years!
The Mohnike Barn was constructed in 1912 of adobe and wood. Charles Mohnike, a rancher who purchased the property in 1910, was the builder.
The Mohnike Barn was constructed in 1912 of adobe and wood. Charles Mohnike, a rancher who purchased the property in 1910, was the builder.
The Mohnike Barn is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with the other ranch structures.
The Mohnike Barn is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with other ranch structures.
An octagonal concrete reservoir to the north, uphill from the ranch house. Photographic evidence shows water might have been pumped up here by windmill.
An octagonal concrete reservoir to the north, uphill from the ranch house. Photographic evidence shows water might have been pumped up here by windmill.
More ranch structures just west of the barn.
More ranch structures just west of the barn.
These friendly goats like to greet hikers and those on bicycles.
These friendly Nubian goats like to greet hikers and those on bicycles.
These chickens were wondering what I was up to.
These chickens were wondering what I was up to.
The southeast corner of the adobe ranch house.
The southeast corner of the adobe ranch house.
One last photo of the courtyard, a focal point of the ranch house, which has seen many lives, much history.
One last photo of the courtyard, a focal point of the ranch house, which has seen many lives, much history.

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Students create fun artwork, reinvent Loteria!

A wall inside the San Diego Art Institute features artwork by 3rd and 4th grade students at San Miguel Elementary School.
A wall inside the San Diego Art Institute features artwork by 3rd and 4th grade students at San Miguel Elementary School.

Check out some fun artwork at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park!

Inside the museum-like gallery you’ll find a wall splashed with a large grid of images created by 3rd and 4th grade students at San Miguel Elementary School. The project is called Loteria Reinvented.

Loteria is a Mexican game of chance similar to bingo. Loteria utilizes a tabla–a random grid of pictures–and matching images that are drawn from a deck of cards. The students were introduced to the game’s history, then made versions of the game unique to San Miguel Elementary School. Each student reinterpreted an original Loteria card, drawing their version on a 17 by 23 inch panel!

The colorful wall can be seen at the San Diego Art Institute until late May. The student artwork will then be displayed at Museo El Trompo in Tijuana.

Each panel is a student's reinterpretation of a Loteria card. Loteria is a Mexican game of chance similar to bingo.
Each panel is a student’s reinterpretation of a Loteria card. Loteria is a Mexican game of chance similar to bingo.
Cupcake. Dragon. Face. Glasses. Tree.
Cupcake. Dragon. Face. Glasses. Tree.
Kitten. Fish. Teacup. Boat. Bull.
Kitten. Fish. Teacup. Boat. Bull.
Flag. Bridge. Dream Soccer. Lion. Shooting Star.
Flag. Bridge. Dream Soccer. Lion. Shooting Star.
Flower. Flying Girl.
Flower. Flying Girl.
Visitor at San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park checks out Loteria Reinvented!
Visitor at San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park checks out Loteria Reinvented!

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Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua in Balboa Park!

Legendary musician Oscar Amezcua performs on stage with his sons during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park.
Legendary musician Oscar Amezcua performs on stage with his sons during a Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park.

What a treat! This evening I got to listen to legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua perform in a special Cinco de Mayo concert in Balboa Park!

Along with stirring performances by the City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble, Jarabe Mexicano and the really outstanding SDSU Jazz Ensemble, Oscar Amezcua wowed the crowd with his passionate voice and irrepressible personality! Two standing ovations were well-earned!

The 87-year-old musical legend has performed for American presidents, dignitaries and countless adoring fans. It’s no mystery why he is loved by so many. Life sparkles in his eyes. His timeless voice comes directly from the heart.

A free concert in Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo featured beloved, world-famous Mariachi Leader Don Oscar Amezcua.
A free concert in Balboa Park at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Cinco de Mayo featured beloved, world-famous Mariachi Leader Don Oscar Amezcua.
Donation box for the Kiwanis Club of San Diego, who along with the SDSU School of Music and Dance presented the special Cinco de Mayo Concert in the Park. Kiwanis has provided many scholarships for SDSU students.
Donation box for the Kiwanis Club of San Diego, who along with the SDSU School of Music and Dance presented the special Cinco de Mayo Concert in the Park. Over the years Kiwanis has provided many generous scholarships for SDSU students.
Event emcee Carlos Amezcua, son of Oscar Amezcua, and his KUSI Good Morning San Diego co-host Lisa Remillard get the program started with a few words.
Event emcee Carlos Amezcua, son of Oscar Amezcua, and his KUSI Good Morning San Diego co-host Lisa Remillard get the program started with a few words.
Kevin Lomes sings Granada, with a powerful voice that deeply moved the audience.
Kevin Lomes sings Granada with a powerful voice that deeply moved the audience.
Art Stillwell of the San Diego Kiwanis Club remembers benefactor Bill Gibbs by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl.
Art Stillwell of the San Diego Kiwanis Club remembers benefactor Bill Gibbs by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl.
The City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble plays for the large crowd.
The City Heights Music School Mariachi Ensemble plays for the large crowd.
Oscar Amezcua comes onto the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, introduced by his popular journalist son Carlos.
Oscar Amezcua comes onto the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion, introduced by his popular journalist son Carlos.
Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to San Diego in 1945 and proceeded to make musical history.
Legendary Mariachi Leader Oscar Amezcua was born in Jalisco, Mexico. He immigrated to San Diego in 1945 and proceeded to make music history.
The ageless Oscar Amezcua sings. The mariachi music full of vigor and joy.
The ageless Oscar Amezcua sings. Mariachi music is full of vigor, passion and joy.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer presents a plaque. May 5, 2017 is officially Oscar Amezcua Day.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer presents a plaque. May 5, 2017 is officially Oscar Amezcua Day.
Oscar, his three sons and daughter perform together while his wife watched from the audience. I saw some tears. A moment in history.
Oscar, his three sons and daughter on stage together. I saw some tears. A moment in history.
People can't help dancing.
People can’t help dancing.
Love of life. Pure and simple.
Love of life. Pure and simple.

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Colorful photos of Chicano Park Day celebration!

Cool graphics on the side of a customized lowrider on display at this year's Chicano Park Day Celebration. Many of the cars were fitted with hydraulic systems.
Cool graphics on the side of a customized lowrider on display at this year’s Chicano Park Day celebration.

I headed down to Barrio Logan this morning to enjoy a bit of the 47th Annual Chicano Park Day celebration!

The big festival celebrating Mexican and Chicano culture drew huge crowds as usual from all around Southern California. There was traditional folklorico dancing, Aztec indigenous dance, and a huge contingent of lowriders and motorcyclists who converged to enjoy the scene and showcase their cool rides. Families enjoyed great food, the park’s playground, and a look at artwork and unique gifts at the many vendor tents. It was fun to just hang around, absorbing San Diego’s warm sunshine and the lively entertainment. The famous murals of Chicano Park infuse the much-loved event with a sense of history and potent meaning. The murals tell of the hard-fought struggle for civil rights.

Chicano Park Day this year was dedicated to Ramón Chunky Sánchez, a very popular musician and a leader of San Diego’s Chicano community who passed away late last year. Speakers also provided emotional tributes to the four who died last year at the annual La Raza Run motorcycle festival in Chicano Park when a car tragically plummeted onto the crowd from a ramp to the Coronado Bay Bridge.

On a happier note, I must mention that in January Chicano Park was designated a National Historic Landmark! Chicano Park contains our nation’s largest collection of outdoor murals.

Please enjoy some colorful photos from this morning!

A family heads toward Chicano Park, where a big annual celebration of Latino history and culture took place today.
A family heads toward Chicano Park, where a big annual celebration of Latino history and culture took place today.
The first thing that caught my attention were lots of awesome vehicles. Southern California lowrider culture is unmatched in the entire world.
The first thing that caught my attention were lots of awesome vehicles. Many were fitted with hydraulics. Southern California lowrider culture is unmatched in the entire world.
Cool cars in a world-famous park.
Cool cars in Barrio Logan’s world-famous park.
Motorcycles and their proud owners also rode in from far and wide for the event.
Motorcycles and their proud owners also rode in from far and wide for the event.
One corner of one mural. As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil porque soy Chicano!
One corner of one mural. As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil porque soy Chicano!
Vendor has lots of fun gifts ready for the growing crowd.
Vendor has lots of fun gifts ready for the growing crowd.
These guys were enjoying the lively scene from one of the public park's picnic tables.
These guys were enjoying the lively scene from one of the public park’s picnic tables.
Some old photos at one booth show Chicano Park being claimed and created by activist community members in 1970.
Some old photos at one booth show Chicano Park being claimed and created by activist community members in 1970.
A variety of images that tell some of the history of Chicano Park.
A variety of images that tell some of the history of San Diego’s unique Chicano Park.
A memorial still remains in Chicano Park, where four were tragically killed last year when a driver veered off the bridge above.
A memorial still remains in Chicano Park, where four were tragically killed last year when a driver veered off the bridge above.
A large crowd had gathered around the pavilion to hear family members remember the deceased and thank the community for its undying love.
A large crowd gathered around the pavilion to hear surviving family members remember the deceased and thank the local community for its undying love.
A large crowd, and the festival had barely opened.
A large crowd, and the festival had barely opened.
And then the entertainment began!
And then the entertainment began!
People enjoy Chicano Park Day Celebration among the many expressive murals.
People enjoy Chicano Park Day among the many expressive murals.  A beautiful image of Virgin Mary has a shrine at its base.
Another photo of the festival today.
Another photo of the festival today.
The folklorico dancing produces smiles, cheers and applause. The park's pavilion, also called the Kiosko, was designed to look like a pre-Colombian Mesoamerican temple
The folklorico dancing produces smiles, cheers and applause. The park’s pavilion, also called the Kiosko, was designed to look like a pre-Colombian Mesoamerican temple.
Traditional Mexican ballet folklorico is a delightful slice of Latino culture and much loved in San Diego.
Traditional Mexican ballet folklorico is a delightful slice of Latino culture and much loved in San Diego.
Some bold artwork on display at the festival. I spotted lots of Aztec and Dia de los Muertos designs.
Some bold artwork on display at the festival. I spotted lots of Aztec and Dia de los Muertos designs.
And more cool stuff.
And more cool stuff!
Photograph at one table shows the late Chicano musician Ramón Chunky Sánchez.
Photograph at one table shows the late Chicano musician Ramón Chunky Sánchez.
Many dancers who would perform at the Chicano Park Day Celebration wore resplendent Aztec costumes.
Many dancers who would perform at the Chicano Park Day celebration wore resplendent Aztec-inspired costumes.
Another fantastic sight in culturally rich San Diego.
Another fantastic sight in culturally rich San Diego.
The High Class Car Club out of Los Angeles had lots of amazing lowrider vehicles on display at nearby Mercado del Barrio.
The High Class Car Club out of Los Angeles had lots of amazing lowrider vehicles on display at nearby Mercado del Barrio.
A cool design on the side of one very cool car!
A cool design on the side of one very cool car!

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Dance, music, fun at International Mariachi Festival!

People watch the 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival in National City's Pepper Park.
People watch the 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival in National City’s Pepper Park.

I took a bunch of colorful photos today at one of San Diego’s most wonderful festivals! The 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival was held today at Pepper Park in National City. (Actually, as I post this blog, the event still has about an hour to go.)

So what does one see at a Mariachi Festival? Read the captions!

The first performance featured the colorful Azteca Dancers - Danza Mexi'cayotl.
The first performance featured the colorful Azteca Dancers – Danza Mexi’cayotl.
The Azteca Dancers file onto the stage to the beat of drums.
The Azteca Dancers file onto the stage to the beat of drums.
The audience watches the dancers perform on the Main Stage of the National City International Mariachi Festival.
The audience watches the dancers perform on the Main Stage of the National City International Mariachi Festival.
Dancers of all ages participate in several ancient Aztec dances, including a Rain Dance.
Dancers of all ages participate in several ancient Aztec dances, including a Rain Dance.
Energy and joy are expressed as cultural traditions live on.
Energy and joy are expressed as cultural traditions live on.
The first of many wonderful performances at the Mariachi Festival!
The first of many wonderful performances at the Mariachi Festival!
Now here comes Danza Folklorica Las Florecitas!
Now here comes Danza Folklorica Las Florecitas!
Another amazing dance begins!
Another amazing dance begins!
Smiles and brightly colorful dresses are both big parts of Mexican culture.
Smiles and brightly colorful dresses are both big parts of Mexican culture.
Dizzily spinning color and pure joy.
Dizzily spinning color and pure joy.
Life as it should be.
Life as it should be.
The happy, rhythmic music had lots of people in the audience clapping along.
The happy, rhythmic music had lots of people in the audience clapping along.
Here come some youthful musicians! I believe these are Mariachi Maya de Southwest Middle School.
Here come some youthful musicians! I believe this is Mariachi Maya de Southwest Middle School. You wouldn’t believe the lung power and vocal range of that gifted young singer!
Watching from the side of the Main Stage.
Watching from the side of the Main Stage.
Meanwhile lots of other fun stuff was going on at the festival, including this guy creating cool spray paint art.
Meanwhile lots of other fun stuff was going on at the festival, including this guy creating cool spray paint art.
Vendors had all sorts of stuff for sale, including colorful Mexican dresses and fun lucha libre masks.
Vendors had all sorts of stuff for sale, including colorful Mexican dresses and fierce lucha libre masks.
Speaking of lucha libre, there was some of that as well. (The blindfolded guy somehow won!)
Speaking of lucha libre, there was some of that as well. (The blindfolded guy somehow won!)
Wrestlers entertain a small crowd at the International Mariachi Festival.
Wrestlers entertain a small crowd at the International Mariachi Festival.
My favorite photo of the family event!
My favorite photo of the family event!
And the event this year was very big! People kept arriving right into the afternoon.
And the event this year was very big! More people kept on arriving right into the afternoon.
The excellent entertainment continued non-stop at the Main Stage.
The excellent entertainment continued non-stop at the Main Stage.
Many great mariachi groups would perform from around San Diego, Southern California and Mexico.
Many great mariachi groups would perform from around San Diego, Southern California and Mexico. Many middle school and high school groups participated.
At the opposite end of Pepper Park, on the Port Stage, kids of all ages performed.
At the opposite end of Pepper Park, on the Port Stage, kids of all ages performed.
On the grass off to the side of the Port Stage a bunch of young performers awaited their turn in the spotlight.
On the grass off to the side of the Port Stage a bunch of young performers awaited their turn in the spotlight.
Now I'm back at the Main Stage one last time. The crowd has grown!
Now I’m back at the Main Stage one last time. The crowd has grown!
Rousing, emotional, much-loved mariachi music brought loud applause throughout the event.
Rousing, emotional, much-loved mariachi music brought loud applause throughout the event.
This young man sang several songs, and finished with an exciting mariachi version of Sinatra's New York, New York!
This young man sang several songs, and finished with an exciting mariachi version of Sinatra’s New York, New York!
Here come some young couples dancing! I'm not sure who these performers are.
Here come some young couples dancing! I’m not sure who these performers are.
A dance filled with life.
A dance filled with life.
Youthful energy at the Mariachi Festival in National City.
Youthful energy at the Mariachi Festival in National City.
And now--I believe--Danza Folklorico Nanahuatzin.
And now–I believe–Danza Folklorico Nanahuatzin.
Colorful skirts whirling like kaleidoscopes.
Colorful skirts whirling like kaleidoscopes.
A traditional Mexican folk dance delighting both eyes and ears.
A traditional Mexican folk dance delighting both eyes and ears.
Pure joy.
Pure joy.
Many wonderful performances could be enjoyed at the 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival!
Many wonderful performances could be enjoyed at the 5th Annual International Mariachi Festival!

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Colorful folklorico dancing at Fiesta de Reyes!

Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park features a stage with live folklorico dancing!
Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park features a stage with live folklorico dancing!

Whenever I visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, I poke my head into Fiesta de Reyes. The Mexican-themed shops and restaurants are always lively and cheerful, but what I really hope to see is the folklorico dancing!

The colorful dancing takes place daily. Take a look at these photos and smile!

The outdoor stage is located near the Mexican-themed shops and restaurants of Fiesta de Reyes. Daily dancing is a popular attraction.
The outdoor stage is located near the Mexican-themed shops and restaurants of Fiesta de Reyes. Daily dancing is a popular attraction.
Traditional Mexican dance includes colorful dresses and big smiles.
Traditional Mexican dance includes colorful dresses and big smiles.
Outdoor benches at Fiesta de Reyes allow visitors to relax and watch the free entertainment.
Outdoor benches at Fiesta de Reyes allow visitors to relax and watch the free entertainment.
Some performers in costume wait off to the side of the stage.
Some performers in costume wait off to the side of the stage.
Colorful banners behind the stage.
Colorful banners behind the stage.
A joyful scene of traditional Mexican folk dance.
A joyful scene of traditional Mexican folk dance.
Between the stage and nearby outdoor restaurant is this stunning dancer. Art made entirely of succulents.
Between the stage and nearby outdoor restaurant is this stunning dancer. Art made entirely of succulents.
Benches facing the stage include bits of cheerful folk art.
Benches facing the stage include bits of cheerful folk art.
An image of two smiling youth, holding hands.
An image of two smiling youth, holding hands.
Fun mariachi sculptures on a wagon just inside the entrance to Fiesta de Reyes.
Fun mariachi sculptures on a wagon just inside the entrance to Fiesta de Reyes.
Mexican culture on a sunny San Diego day.
Mexican culture on a sunny San Diego day.

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