4th Annual Mole & Mariachi Festival: Sept. 10, 2016

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If wearing white after Labor Day is a fashion faux pas, it’s a good thing the Mole & Mariachi Festival takes place after the holiday. It could get messy!

The 4th Annual Mole & Mariachi Festival will take over Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park on Saturday, September 10, celebrating the famous sauce and signature dish of México.

Prepared with an average of twenty ingredients, from nuts and seeds to chiles and oftentimes chocolate, moles from ten local chefs including restaurants, catering companies, and home cooks, will be available for sampling at the festival.

As festival regulars and judges in this year’s mole cooking competition, we have three pieces of advice: arrive early, come hungry, and save room for dessert.

Here’s what’s in store at this year’s Mole & Mariachi Festival:


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The highlight of the Mole & Mariachi Festival is the mole cook-off, giving mole lovers and those new to the rich, dark sauce the chance to sample ten different moles and vote for their favorites.

Tasting kits can be purchased for $10 at the School Street entrance to the Mission and include six samples and a bag of chips. Extra tastes are $2 each.

If you feel teased by the samples, food vendors will be serving mole tamales, mole tacos, and more, as well as other great food options from Garcia’s Fish Tacos and Taqueria Lidia.

As the day warms up, quench your thirst with a chavela, a twist on a Bloody Mary made with beer, tomato juice, and spices. Beer from Discretion Brewing and wine by Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard will also be available for purchase.

And for dessert, you can’t go wrong with fresh hot churros or Mission Hill ice cream. Or better yet, a churro-ice cream combo that is in the works for this year’s festival!


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Adding to the event’s festive spirit will be live mariachi music from several regional bands, including Mariachi Alma de México and its talented youth group, Mariachi Juvenil Alma de México.

Local dance troupes Senderos and Estrellas de Esperanza will perform traditional Ballet Folklórico dances.

Don’t be shy… there’s plenty of space to kick up your heels, too. Just watch out for the mojigangas. Moji…what?!

At over ten feet tall, these giant dancing puppet figures are hard to miss.
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More than Mole

Enjoy a full day of family-friendly fun with a variety of activities for the kids including traditional tissue paper crafts, bubbles, face painting, and a steady stream of piñatas every hour.

There will also be a raffle and the street Mercado will be filled with a diverse array of artisans showing and selling their work. Vendors include Artesanias Mexicanos, Creative Woman, and Alejandro’s Trade.

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The Mole & Mariachi Festival benefits Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Proceeds help support educational programs and ongoing preservation efforts at the Mission by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks.

Ready to get your mole and mariachi on?

What: 4th Annual Mole & Mariachi Festival
When: September 10 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Cost: Free admission; Tasting kits $10
Good to know: Bike valet available
Parking: Park Downtown and walk or take the trolley from the Locust St. Garage for free

Contest is closed. **Santa Cruz Life is giving away four tasting kits on Instagram! Two winners will each receive two tasting kits. Follow us on Instagram at @yoursantacruz for details. Winners will be chosen Thursday, September 1.**

About Christine Candelaria

Christine Candelaria is a local mom of four who enjoys sharing her Santa Cruz adventures. You can follow her #santacruzlife on Instagram at @theaumsmama.

  • Lisa McAndrews says:

    Am I not seeing what the hours are for this lovely festival?

    • Hi Lisa! Oops…that info would be helpful. I just added it–the Mole & Mariachi Festival is on September 10 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Thanks!

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