What are you doing this Memorial Day weekend? The Performing Arts and Convention Center (PACC) in Oxnard has something extra-special planned to kick off your summer. Coinciding with the popular venue’s 50th anniversary, PACC is hosting Oxnard’s largest arts festival. “It’s our biggest event of the year,” says event coordinator Carolyn Mullin, who adds that the acronym “PACC” will take on a whole new meaning, as in “filled to capacity with the arts.”
The festival’s theme is “Art by the People” or “Arte de la Gente” and it is “a celebration of the visual artists, musicians, dancers, performers, chefs and others who make up Oxnard’s diverse cultural and creative talent.”
“Art is so personal and you can see art in anything,” Mullin says, which is why the festival will highlight everything from art installations and live performances, classic cars and vintage bicycles to films, food trucks and a beer garden, holistic arts workshops, martial arts demonstrations and more.
The festivities kick off on Friday night with a fundraising “open air soirée” that starts at 6 p.m. Admission is $35 and tickets are tax-deductible. (They can be purchased online at PACC’s website.) The reception will feature special performances by Oxnard’s youngest mariachi singer Ricitos de Oro, Ventura’s own Havana 5, and NEMA (Neighbors Embracing Multicultural Arts) Belly Dance. Guests can get a sneak peek at the vintage bicycles exhibition and bid on art by local artists in a silent auction to benefit PACC’s educational programming. All this while they sip curated cocktails and indulge in hors d’oeuvres by Chef Brandon Worrell, a culinary instructor at Oxnard College.
Saturday and Sunday are free and open to the public. Both days boast full line-ups of musical and dance performances by local favorites. Featured performers include Irie Smile, Dezmo’s Blues, Grupo Nuevo Esfuerzo, and The Centuries. A second stage will feature performances by Thursday Island’s Psychic Charity, MO Music Girl Squad, O’My Theater, Grupo Folklorico Mexicana and others. New West Symphony will also be performing on the second stage and hosting an educational music van for fans young and old.
The visual arts will be on stunning display, and guests will get the chance to meet emerging and seasoned local artists. Stand-outs include new murals by six different artists and a rock installation by Juan Manuel Cisneros.
“I think the most important part of this festival is that it provides an opportunity to interface with all of the dynamic arts experiences happening in Oxnard,” says festival director Chelsea Reynolds. In all, more than 20 artists will be showing and selling their work, including Andrea Mendoza, Dayane Zuniga, Kenzie Lea, Gigi Ying, Michael Racine and many others. Guests can create their own works of art at several workshops that span the art spectrum, from paper flowers to fluid art, as well as the practice of tapping into one’s own creativity. Other workshops encompass other kinds of art forms like martial arts, capoeira and folk dancing.
The art of filmmaking will be on display, too. Director Julio Alcala will show a short film made possible by a grant from the city of Oxnard. Other shorts by Luis Guereca, who makes films about life in Oxnard, and Arcelia Martinez, who studied film at Oxnard College, will also be screened.
PACC will host dozens of vendors and organizations that will be sharing the art of what they do. Ranging from self-defense to self-indulgence, participants include Damsels in Defense, Cocoa Rome Chocolate Company, Anastasia Tarot and Vedic Astrology, the Oxnard Gem and Mineral Society, the Channel Islands Maritime Museum, Elite Theatre Company and KBBY Radio. There really is something — many things, in fact — for everyone.
All this excitement is bound to make one peckish, so food trucks will abound. A few to keep an eye out for: Baby’s Badass Burgers, The Grilled Cheese Truck, Kona Ice of Ventura and Dreamy Creations Dessert Truck. (And don’t forget about the beer garden.)
No festival would be complete without a designated children’s area and PACC’s Art Festival promises to have a seriously fun one. There will be bouncy houses, to be sure, an obstacle course and face painting. There will also be fire-breathing dragons (of the arts amd crafts variety), a train operated by City Corps and lots more.
There are enough things to see and do — and eat and drink — to fill up both Saturday and Sunday and then some. “Super-sized” may be an apt description of the festival, and yet it promises to have a welcoming hometown feel. “I think the grass-roots feel of this festival makes it fun and accessible to all audiences,” says Reynolds. Carolyn Mullin reminds us that Sunday is Dapper Day and guests are invited to show off their Sunday best, but it’s not required. The only thing that matters is having a good time. As Reynolds says, “The best way to experience the festival is to come ready to have a good time.”
PACC: The Arts Festival will have its opening reception on Friday, May 25, 6-8 p.m. The festival itself takes place May 26-27 at the Oxnard Performing Arts and Convention Center, 800 Hobson Way, Oxnard. For tickets, full schedule and more information, call 486-2424 or visit www.oxnardperformingarts.com.