5th Annual Mole & Mariachi Festival: Sept. 9, 2017

The 5th Annual Mole & Mariachi Festival will take over Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park on Saturday, September 9, celebrating the famous sauce and traditional music of México.

The festival features a mole tasting competition with nine different varieties of mole available for sampling. Music, dancing, kid activities, and a raffle round out the day’s festivities.

As festival regulars and returning judges in this year’s mole cooking competition, we have three pieces of advice: arrive early, come hungry, and watch out for the mojigangas!

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 nine different moles and cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award. This year, returning champs Mickey’s Catering & Café and El Chipotle Restaurant will return to defend their titles, first and second place respectively for People’s and Judge’s Choice.

Tasting kits can be purchased at the School Street entrance to the Mission at $10 for six tastes or $15 for ten tastes. Extra tastes are $2 each.

Mouthwatering mole samples are just the beginning of the festival’s culinary creations. You’ll want to save room for mole tamales, mole tacos, and other great food options from local vendors Taquitos Gabriel, Lidia’s Taqueria, Sason Mexicano, and more.

As the day warms up, quench your thirst with non-alcoholic aguas frescas or a refreshing 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.

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with fresh hot churros or Penny Ice Creamery who will be serving horchata blackberry ice cream.


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Adding to the event’s festive spirit will be live mariachi music from several regional bands, including the return of Mariachi Gilroy, Mariachi Alma de Mexico and youth groups Mariachi Infantil Alma de Mexico and Banda de Senderos.

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, face painting, and a steady stream of piñatas every hour.Photo by Gina Orlando

There will also be a raffle and the street Mercado will be filled with a diverse array of artisans showing and selling their work.

The Mole & Mariachi Festival benefits Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park which is home to the oldest building in Santa Cruz County. Proceeds help support educational programs and ongoing preservation efforts of the Mission adobe by Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks.

Ready to get your mole and mariachi on?

What: 5th Annual Mole & Mariachi Festival
When: September 9 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Cost: Free admission; Tasting kits $10 – $15
Good to know: This is a solar-powered, zero waste community event. Bike valet will be available and there will be a free shuttle from Downtown Santa Cruz (stops to include Locust Street Garage and Del Mar Theater). Festival attendees are encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottles for free water.

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.