Fiesta started early in Oxnard with the city’s 18th annual Salsa Festival the other weekend, a two-day event sure to please salsa eaters and salsa dancers alike. Upon entering the venue, the dance floor was full of guests dancing to the salsa music of L.A.-based Orchestra Charangoa, reflective of the day’s relaxed and friendly vibe. The Plaza Park event — which featured over 100 food and handcraft vendors, dance performances from local salsa groups, and tortilla art for kids — is arguably most famous for its salsa tasting tent, a steal at just $5 for ten tickets and a bag of tortilla chips.

Local restaurants provided their unique salsas in convenient to-go cups, ensuring an easy tasting experience. Guests of the tasting tent were invited to enjoy themselves at central standing tables. Most participating businesses used the festival simply to gain recognition by sponsoring the festival, explained festival spokesperson Janis Flippen, but many businesses also provided salsa for purchase.

Sugar Beets — one of the new restaurants featured in the tasting tent — is located in downtown Oxnard right down the street from the festival itself. They offered a refreshing mango salsa, representative of what co-owner Lupe Ledesma called the “eclectic fusion of food” that Sugar Beets head chef and owner Martin Ledesma created.

In addition to the live music, Salsa Festival guests enjoyed dance performances put on by fifth annual Dancing with our Community Stars, a charity fundraising event that allowed viewers to vote for their favorites, along with various swag items provided by business tents. The festival, which attracts guests from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, is growing in popularity each year and is estimated to draw approximately 45,000 people next year.


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