SANTA CRUZ — The 12th annual Vive Oaxaca Guelaguetza Cultural Festival unfolded Sunday at the Harbor High athletic field. The event is designed to showcase live traditional dances, dress, music and food from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Staged by the nonprofit group Senderos, the event drew more than 4,400 people.

“I like this event because so many people come out and take it seriously,” said Jesse Garcia of Santa Cruz. “The food is good. The music is good. It’s a good time.”

Once again, Carolyn Coleman, Senderos board member, said the event also drew people from the state of Oaxaca, including the large musical group Centro de Integracion Social No. 8 from Zoogocho, Oaxcaca.

Fe Silva-Robles, director of Vive Oaxaca, said the event is designed to bring the community together and have a good time, “and at the same time we are preserving important cultural traditions. Some people here might be introduced to these dances for the first time. And the food here — it’s the best.”

Oaxaca is in southwestern Mexico and is known for its wide array of indigenous people and cultures, the most numerous and best known being the Zapotecs and the Mixtecs. Oaxaca is also home to Monte Alban, a large pre-Columbian archeological pyramid complex that dates back to 500 BC.

Guelaguetza is a Zapotec word that signifies the gift of offering, and for local people, stands for a commitment of sharing and cooperation.

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