Tango Mango Salsa has a popular booth at Salsa Fest. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The 13th annual Salsa Festival is March 25 at Copper Sky Regional Park. It is perennially Maricopa’s most-attended event, drawing more than 10,000 people last year.

IF YOU GO
What: Salsa Fest
When: March 25, 2-8 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Blvd.
How much: Free entry; $1 salsa tasting kit; $5 Little Pepper Zone
Info: Maricopa-AZ.gov/web/Salsa-Festival
SCHEDULE
2 p.m. — Gates open; Salsa turn-in for judging; DJ
2:40 p.m. — Piñata Bust
3 p.m. — Ballet Folklorico de Santa Maria
3:30 p.m. — Jiselle Diaz; Piñata Bust
4 p.m. — Danzarte Danza Folklorica
4:30 p.m. — Salsa dance lessons
5 p.m. — Chili pepper eating contest
5:30 p.m. — About Last Nite; Piñata Bust
6:30 p.m. — DJ
7 p.m. — About Last Nite
7:30 p.m. — Awards on the Main Stage

Though Salsa Fest brings in visitors from Casa Grande, Phoenix and Tempe, “it is definitely a local event,” Special Events Manager Niesha Whitman said.

She said the city is bringing back some events from past festivals, like an “informal” chili pepper eating contest and piñata bust.

Familiar elements of the festival include the Little Pepper Zone for kids, live entertainment and food vendors. The entire festival grounds will be fenced off to allow festival-goers to roam free with their beers rather than be confined to a “garden.” The fencing also allows city staff to get a more accurate attendance count, Whitman said.

Of course, the main draw is the salsa.

Salsa chefs participating in the lucrative contest serve up their best efforts, and the public gets to judge whose is best. Salsa-tasting kits are $1, and include the tortilla chips for sampling all of the salsas.

The People’s Choice Award is $1,000 for the winner. There are also first, second and third-place awards in each category of salsa, and the celebrity judges’ award.

Entertainment is headlined by the band About Last Nite. Local singer (and reigning Miss City of Maricopa Outstanding Teen) Jiselle Diaz will also perform, as will two folklorica traditional dance groups. You can also try your feet at a salsa dance lesson.

Maricopa Science City will again be part of the Salsa Fest with its interactive Science@Work exhibit. Science City is designed to show how science, technology, engineering arts and math play a role in the community.

Entry is free, but parking at Copper Sky is $5. There is free parking at area elementary schools with a free shuttle.


This story appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

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