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Ole! The annual Oxnard salsa festival is about to get spicier

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Salsa fans should mark your calendars for the 21st Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival which takes place July 26 & 27, 2014, at Plaza Park, 5th & 'B' Streets. A celebration of everything salsa from music to ood and the dance, the event kicks off with a paid concert on July 25 featuring the Oxnard Salsa Orchestra led by Raul Rico Jr., playing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets for the Friday night concert seating are $10 per person and can be purchased on-site. Groups of six can pre-order reserved tables for $85on the festival website.

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Four hot new bands are on the schedule of The Festival Main Stage entertainment that runs continuously from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, July 26 & 27. OPA OPA, one of the new bands, ignites the celebration on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with their distinctive sound, rich percussive rhythms, remarkably unique vocals and robust brassy horns that makes up the powerful sounds of OSA. Next at 2 p.m., appearing for the first time at the Festival, Sabor Latino Orchestra takes to the stage performing their own original music. The 17-piece orchestra provides the best in traditional Latin music and ranks among the most accomplished performers of the golden era of the Mambo Kings, New York Salsa and Afro-Cuban music. At 4:45 p.m., Yari Morè Band closes the day out in a first-ever appearance at the Oxnard Salsa Festival. This exciting band has been providing live entertainment in major cities throughout southern California, Las Vegas, Chicago and Edmonton, Canada for over 20 years.

Sunday’s celebration kicks off with Conjunto Afro Son, also new this year, playing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Led by Bobby Escoto III, this group of seasoned musicians hail from different parts of north, central & South America living in Los Angeles and bringing great music and energy to the stage. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Orquesta Tabaco y Ron, a Southern California favorite, continues the salsa beat. The 10-piece group led by producer and pianist Hector Manuel Rivera will have the audience in full motion, showing off their moves. The Janeen Puente Orchestra takes to the stage and closes the day’s music. Granddaughter of the great Tito Puente, Janeen Puente and her high-energy salsa orchestra, perform their original songs and arrangements in a distinctive style.

On Sunday the region’s best salsa instructors will dance for charity during the Dancing with Our Community Stars Dance Contest & Charity Fundraiser. Patterned after ABC’s hit TV show, this salsa-trwist version is a highlight of the Festival weekend. Then salsa connoisseurs can enter the annual contest dubbed tee Great Oxnard Salsa Challenge. The Challenge gets underway on Sunday morning, July 27. Judging begins at 11 a.m. followed by the announcement of the winners at 1 p.m. from the Main Stage.

Other activities include a Kids Korner with Tortilla an Marketplace Food & Shopping along with tastings of about 60,000 samples of specialty salsas dished out by local restaurants, Mexican markets and gourmet salsa vendors inside the Festival’s big-top Salsa Tasting Tent for $5 per person, which includes freshly made Mission Foods tortilla chips and ten tasting tickets.

Getting there: Oxnard is located just 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Santa Barbara. You can get there by train, car, or bus. The Oxnard Transportation Center is located three short blocks from the festivities at Plaza Park. The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner travels between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. Kids, ages two to 15 ride for half fare when accompanied by a paid adult. And seniors receive a 15% discount for ages 62 and over.

The 21st Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival is presented by the Oxnard Downtowners, and sponsored by Gold Coast Broadcasting, Bud Light, Mission Foods, Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau, Ventura County Star, and many other generous community partners. Festival admission and parking are free. No pets or coolers are permitted on-site.

For a listing of hotels and visitor attractions, visit www.visitoxnard.com or call the Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-2-Oxnard. For Festival information, call 805-247-0197, or visit www.oxnardsalsafestival.com

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