Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks (Friends), a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining the legacy of our local state parks and beaches, will host its third annual Mole & Mariachi Festival on Saturday, Sept. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park (144 School St.) in downtown Santa Cruz. Admission to event is free; mole tasting kits will cost $10.

A benefit for Friends in support of Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park restoration projects, educational programming for school children and community cultural events at the park, the event will feature two festive folk music bands — Mariachi Alma de Mexico and Mariachi Juvenil Alma de Mexico. Playing violins, trumpets, guitars and other Mexican varieties of European instruments, Mariachi members sing choruses together and alternate as lead singers.

Estrellas de Esperanza, a children’s Mexican folklorico dance group from Watsonville, will return for its third year. The Great Morgani, an accordionist extraordinaire and Santa Cruz favorite, also will perform at the event, his first Mole & Mariachi Festival.

A diverse array of artists will display and sell work at the Mole & Mariachi Festival, including folk art and handmade crafts from Mexico by Hand and Mexican-themed decoupage plates from Creative Women. Printmakers participating in the Ayotzinapa 43 project will offer original prints and postcards. Artesanias, Alejandro’s Trade and Sivia’s Studio also will have items for sale.

Local chefs will prepare mole (a traditional Mexican sauce, sometimes made using chocolate). Mole sauces will be judged by event attendees and by a panel of local celebrity judges. 2015 Mole & Mariachi Festival guests may purchase great local food, beverages — including beer from Discretion Brewing and chavelas, a drink made with beer, tomato juice and spices — and raffle tickets. Free activities for children include piñatas every hour, face painting, crafts, Californio games and a mural project coordinated by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

Launched in 2013, the first Mole & Mariachi Festival attracted more than 1,000 attendees.

For more information about how to get involved in the Mole & Mariachi Festival, as a mole chef, artist, food vendor or sponsor, email [email protected] or visit

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About Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

The Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, “Your State Park Downtown,” 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 saved 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 implemented key improvements at the park, including 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. Friends also established the Summer Series, a popular series of cultural events at the Mission that culminates with the Mole & Mariachi Festival 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 has provided millions of dollars of funding for educational programs, visitor services and capital projects. Founded in 1976, 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 at or via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.