September 9th Benefit for Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park Promises Day of Fun for Adults and Kids

SANTA CRUZ, CA–Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks (Friends), a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining the legacy of our state parks and beaches, announced its fifth annual Mole & Mariachi Festival will be held on Saturday, September 9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park (144 School St.) in downtown Santa Cruz. Admission to the solar-powered, zero waste community event is free and attendees are encouraged to bring refillable water bottles for free water.

The festival features a mole tasting competition with nine different varieties of mole (a traditional Mexican sauce, sometimes made using chocolate) available to sample:

Mickey’s Catering & Café
El Chipotle Restaurant
Taquitos Gabriel
Chef Emma Pinto/Mama Marquita
Lidia’s Taqueria
Chef Zack Mazi
Chef Ana Mendoza/Moles & Oaxacan Cuisine

Mole tasting kits will be available for purchase. Attendees will have the option to purchase six tasting tickets for $10 or 10 tasting tickets for $15. Attendees wishing to sample additional mole may purchase single tasting tickets for $2 each. Mole sauces will be judged by event attendees who will cast their vote for a People’s Choice Award, and by a panel of local celebrity judges who will vote for Judge’s Choice Award. People’s Choice Voting for this year’s competition will take place at a ballot box stationed at each Mole chef’s table.

Festival attendees can also purchase food items, including mole dishes, from local vendors who will be selling tamales, tacos and more. Food vendors include:

Taquitos Gabriel
El Chipotle Restaurant
Lidia’s Taqueria
Sason Mexicano
Chef Ana Mendoza/Moles & Oaxacan Cuisine
Aparicio’s Corn
Mexican Churros
Bellas Fruit Cocktails
Penny Ice Creamery

Beer from Discretion Brewing, wine by Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, chavelas (a drink made with beer, tomato juice and spices) and aguas frescas will be available for purchase.

The event will include 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 groups will perform including Senderos, Estrellas de Esperanza and Monos de Calenda (giant dancing puppets also known as mojigangas).

The Mole & Mariachi Festival Mercado will include a wide variety of items for purchase including Mole & Mariachi Festival water bottles. A raffle will feature numerous prize packages and free activities for children include piñatas every hour, paper crafts and face painting.

The Mole & Mariachi Festival will be solar powered, thanks to the generous support of Sandbar Solar. Attendees can make green transportation choices by taking advantage of the free bike valet or riding the free shuttle from downtown Santa Cruz (stops to include Locust Street Garage and Del Mar Theater).

All proceeds benefit Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

For more information about how to get involved in the Mole & Mariachi Festival, as a sponsor or volunteer, visit For more about mole, visit

About Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park is home to the oldest building in Santa Cruz County. Built between 1822 and 1824 by local Ohlonean and Yokuts Indians, the park’s signature adobe is the only remaining structure from Mission Santa Cruz, founded in 1791. One of just four adobe buildings left in Santa Cruz County — and sometimes confused with the nearby replica mission chapel — it is the only building of its kind preserved as a museum in the State of California. The adobe served as housing for Neophyte families who lived and worked at the Mission, which operated until 1834 when it was secularized. After decades of private ownership, the adobe was sold to the State of California, extensively restored and finally opened in 1991 to the public as the Santa Cruz Mission SHP.

Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks rallied the community to save Santa Cruz Mission SHP from closure in 2012. Friends funds interpretation services and a portion of park operations, and also runs the Mission ParkStore. In addition, Friends has helped State Parks implement key improvements at the park in recent years, including installation of a mosaic mural along Mission Street, a remodel of the patio, the opening of new interpretive exhibits, renovated outdoor cooking facilities and new hours of operation to serve local school children (approximately 2,500 third and fourth graders visit the park annually). Projects completed this year include installation of water-saving toilets and a French drain to protect the adobe from winter rains. Restoration of the adobe’s brick floor is currently underway, with exterior plaster repairs planned for this fall. Friends also established the Mole & Mariachi Festival, a bicultural celebration each September. The park is supported by the Mission Committee, members of which include representatives of Friends, State Parks and dedicated community volunteers.

About Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks
Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks is an entrepreneurial nonprofit sustaining the legacy of our state parks and beaches. Through an innovative partnership with California State Parks, and by leveraging local community support, Friends provides funding for educational programs, visitor services and capital projects. Friends is passionately dedicated to the preservation of our spectacular natural environment and rich cultural history. Friends also operates six ParkStores, offering nature- and history-themed merchandise for sale to benefit local parks and beaches. ParkStore locations include Natural Bridges, New Brighton, Santa Cruz Mission, Seacliff, Wilder Ranch and Online. Learn more or via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.