Dia de los Muertos festival in Mesa

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz. -- Halloween is still more than a week away, but you can get into the "spirit" this coming weekend at the Dia de Los Muertos Festival in Mesa.

On Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26, the Mesa Arts Center campus will host a celebration of the memory of departed loved ones with the Ninth Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival.

The free festival will offer a non-stop schedule of live entertainment on two stages, children's activities, a wide variety of food options, and studio demonstrations.

You can also shop at Mercado Marketplace, which features traditional and contemporary merchandise, jewelry, and Mexican arts and crafts from more than 30 local artisans and vendors.

In the spirit of traditional Dia de los Muertos festivities, a community altar will be the centerpiece for the festival, where attendees can leave mementos in honor of their loved ones who have passed. Altars created by community groups, schools and families will also be on display for a festival contest sponsored by the Mexican Consulate and Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens.

In the Bookmans Family Activity area festival participants of all ages are invited to create a traditional sugar skull or ceramic pin, or to contribute a paper flower to construct a large-scale, colorful skull over the course of the weekend. Families can also enjoy the Taylor Troupe Stiltwalkers and performances by juggler James Reid.

Featured festival performances include award-winning author Stella Pope Duarte with Liliana De Leon-Torsiello, Fiesta Mexicana Dance, Folklorico Lindo y Querido, Mariachi Passion, Mariachi Corazon de Phoenix, Mariachi Juvenil los Primos, Mariachi Viva, Noemy Esparza, Nuance Jazz, Orchestra Kaliente, Sherry Finzer, Si Se Puede Foundation, Sol Gitana, Unidos en Armistad and more.

The festival will culminate in a performance and an open procession to the Community Altar led by Mariachi Pasion at 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26.

When:Saturday, October 25 - Sunday, October 26, 2014
Where: Mesa Arts Center
Start time: Sat 10:00am / Sun 12:00 Noon
End time: 5:00pm both days

Mesa Art Center
One East Main Street, Mesa
1st Ave & Center Street