a flier for 2023 Fiesta Mexicana events in downtown Watsonville
(Via Watsonville Film Festival)

More than just the fair: Cultural events take center stage in Watsonville’s big upcoming weekend

Beginning with next Friday’s Fiesta Mexicana at the downtown plaza, continuing Saturday with a celebration of music and culture at the Mello Center and winding up Sunday with a Mexican Independence Day festival, next weekend is shaping up to be an excellent time to visit Watsonville. And the Santa Cruz County Fair is happening, too.

While you’re visiting this year’s Santa Cruz County Fair at the fairgrounds next weekend, you might want to make it a double shot of cultural fun in Watsonville.

Fridays at the Watsonville Plaza are already a fun stop thanks to the weekly farmers market. But next Friday, Sept. 15, “Fiesta Mexicana” — brought to you by the Watsonville Film Festival — comes to the plaza with live music and folklorico performances on stage by Son Jarocho Santa Cruz, Esperanza Del Valle and Mariachi Juvenil Corazon Jalisciense, followed by a screening of the classic 1950 Mexican comedy “El Rey del Barrio” with the beloved comedian Tin Tan, just right across the street at the Cabrillo Watsonville Center. It’s all free.

Then, on Saturday evening, Sept. 16, the Mello Center in downtown Watsonville will be the site for a “Celebration of Music & Culture.” Yes, they could have come up with a catchier name, but it’s still a big show of music and folklorico dance including such beloved community performers as Esperanza Del Valle and the White Hawk Indian Council for Children, among several others. It’s all in support of the Watsonville Center of the Arts and its efforts to make these kinds of culturally significant art forms a part of locals’ daily lives.

But that’s not all. On Sunday, Sept. 17, back at the plaza, the Mexican Independence Day Festival will feature music, food, dance and art, all from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., again free and family-friendly.

It’s a wow weekend for Watsonville.

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