Salsa Fest: Oxnard's Piquant Party

Whether you prefer the dip or the dance, you'll find your fun.

HEAT IS HAPPINESS: If you're going to sit on the couch in the corner at the party, the one that is right in front of the salsa bowl, and continue to dip chip after tortilla chip, looking for that happy jalapeño jolt and cilantro spiciness, well, move over, because we're coming to join you. Hardly anyone can blame a person for wanting the salsa bowl mostly to themselves, especially if you've ever made salsa from scratch in your own kitchen, only to find that, by the completion of the recipe, you've basically already consumed half of it. There's a party for people who find happiness in habañero-based heat, and it arrives in one of the sun-intense-iest times of the year: The very end of July. The two-day festival just happens to be in a place much associated with strawberries, but come July 30 and 31, the seedy fruit will have to make way for peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

SALSA DANCING... is also a major part of the Oxnard Salsa Festival, which may be one of the few fests that holds a duo-style party celebrating both meanings of its titular word. While people shimmy on the dance floor, performing their best sways and shimmying, eaters'll be roaming the Salsa Tasting Tent, where the "region's biggest salsa bar" will be on full, tastebud-tempting display. That's five bucks, and you get a bag of Mission tortilla chips to help you expedite the salsa-enjoying process. Of course, the Plaza Park party has a lot of other doings afoot, from live tunes to vendors galore, but for those who like their salsa in both bowls, and in front of a band, well, there's plenty to fill the time. Just be ready for fiery fun, and, yes, that late July sunshine, which may be as hot as a bowl of green chile. Mmm.

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