Displays that celebrate the memories of deceased loved ones were installed at the Dia de los Mauertos festival in the District56 center, Oct. 30. 

A crowd came out to celebrate the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) at the District56 center on Oct. 30.

Teresa Gutierrez, president of event sponsor ARTners noted that this was the second year that they sponsored the event. She said she had received compliments on “what a beautiful place” the venue was. She said it was a larger place to fill and likely had the same number in attendance in comparison to the previous year at the Old Town Plaza.

“Our theme is community, education, culture, celebration and honoring,” Teresa said. “I just want to thank the community for coming out and enjoying this event on this beautiful day.”

One altar was set up on the outside by Kalpulli Xihuacoatl, one of the organizations that partnered with ARTners, the nonprofit collaborative behind this event. Organizer Adan Gutierrez said that with the help of all the group members, it “took a good two hours from start to finish,” but the preparation took hours at home to take everything out of the boxes and to decide what to put up.

At last year’s Elk Grove festival, they only performed as Aztec dancers, and this year, ARTners wanted Kalpulli Xihuacoatl to bring more tradition and involvement.

“I truly enjoy the opportunity to always teach, to share the children with the community and for them to understand that what we do is not just Aztec dancing,” Adan said.

Like prior events, artwork was on display, as were altars to commemorate deceased friends and relatives of some of the vendors. One example was an altar for 2005 Elk Grove High School graduate Matthew Goodwin, which was put together by his sister Kim Goodwin, founder of the Matthew Goodwin Art Scholarship.

Many vendors had booths set up ranging from face-painting to art. Veronica Kovats Sanchez, an artist from Sacramento, had her artwork on display. She said that regarding how long it took to do her art depended on her mood. Sanchez said that her oil paintings took six months to complete and her digital work took a couple of months to complete. However, one piece of artwork related to the event.

“I have one called, ‘Sanando el Alma’ (‘healing the soul’) that’s in honor of my grandma,” Sanchez said. “She passed away when I was in second grade when I was living in Mexico, but she was very influential and was a meaningful relative to me. She taught my mom, my sister and I a lot of things.”

Among the vendors at the event, one of them personally connected to the theme of the event. Joy Normand, empowerment and success coach, and owner of Becoming Fierce Female Entrepreneurs, said that ARTners had contacted her to participate because they follow Normand’s YouTube channel. This organization also took part in the Mother’s Day event that ARTners put together last May.

Normand said she related to this event because her parents passed away within a year when she was 20 years old. She said she went through panic attacks but then through meditation and prayer she managed to find herself.

“I started realizing what my parents taught me,” Normand said. “It was not to be fearful and they would not want me to be sad, but for a while I was in grief. I do honor my parents now and I go by their memory and everything they taught me, that’s how I got through it.”