Oxnard Heat: Salsa Festival

The dance and the dip share the flavorful spotlight.

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DELIGHTFUL AND DIFFERENT: Tell someone that you love to salsa and they may, at first, take pause, before realizing you likely mean the dance. But if you had a chip in hand, and it hovered over a bowl of pico de gallo, and you said "I love to salsa," well, you can bet that the listener would think you were referring to your love of devouring hot, dippable foodstuffs. How, though, will people who happen to be at one of Oxnard's biggest edible and social festivals differentiate exactly what they mean? For over the last weekend in July -- that's July 25 and 26 -- there shall be salsaing and there shall be salsaing at Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard. The Oxnard Salsa Festival is one of the only food-focused festivals in all the land to put equal focus on movement, and a particular dance style, so it is a standout among large-scale weekend parties. It's also a standout because many fabulous dancers show up to shake it to the live bands while, over at the food area, fabulous cooks put together tomato-onion-garlic-pepper concoctions galore. So what shall it be? Salsa or salsa? Why not both? Start with...

THE LIVE BANDS: Conjunto Oye! and Sabor De Mi Cuba and Echo Park Project and Son Mayor and Orquesta Rumbankete and Tabaco y Ron will offer the grooves and beats from the stage, while a Friday night kick-off will feature Oscar Hernandez and Alma Libre (the guest on stage with them will be Justo Almario). Some "fifty different flavors" will be there for the sampling at the Salsa Tasting Tent. Buy a five-buck admission and get ten different tastes. 

IT ALL MAKES ONE PONDER... about interesting duos, and whether Oxnard's other major foodie event on the calendar -- the California Strawberry Festival, in May -- wouldn't pair well with a salsa soiree. Aren't fruit salsas rather wonderful? And aren't berries buddy-buddy with heat, adding the sweet? That right there is another pairing that would be fun to see. For now, though, salsa and salsa --the dance and the dip -- make for a fire-filled, move-happy summer party.

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