Day of the Dead celebrated throughout RGV with enticing festivities

Music fans dance as they listen to the music group Los Master Plus during the Catrina Music Fest at the McAllen Convention Center on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

A line of people formed at the entrance to the festival grounds as people awaited their turn to take a photo with the 37-foot catrina in McAllen.

The catrina, said to be the largest in the United States, greeted attendees of the inaugural Tecate Catrina Music Fest on Saturday.

Josie Casares dresses as La Carina during the Catrina Music Fest at the McAllen Convention Center on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

The event was a celebration of Dia de los Muertos that featured 12 popular bands including Caifanes, Zoe, El Tri, Fobia, Cultura Profetica, Ximena Sarinana, Inspector, Too Many Zoos, Jenny and the Mexicats, Genitallica, La Castaneda and Victimas del Dr. Cerebro.

“This is a celebration for Dia de los Muertos,” Yajaira Flores, director for the McAllen Convention Center, said of the event. “This is the inaugural festival. They plan to grow the event and make it into a three-day festival.”

Many of the attendees wore floral headbands, while others had their faces painted. The event featured numerous food vendors, a ferris wheel, and three stages for the bands to perform.

“We’ve been working towards this event for about a year. We confirmed the event maybe three months ago, and made the public announcement in the beginning of August,” Flores said. “It’s going to be thousands of people.”

Across town the International Museum of Art and Science held their own Dia de los Muertos festivities that included music, vendors, decorating sugar skulls, a catrina contest, and a lecture from Servando Z. Hinojosa, a professor in the UTRGV Department of Anthropology.

“This is my first Dia de los Muertos program, and I think some of those are the connections between the traditional practices and the stories,” Ann Fortescue, president and director for IMAS, said. “Since I’m new to the Valley, this is very much a cross-cultural expression of some deep Mexican heritage and the community here in the Rio Grande Valley.”

The event also showcased some ofrendas made in honor of inspiring individuals, including Princess Diana, Mother Teresa and Cesar Chavez, among others.

“One of the terrific things about doing this type of community program is we welcome museum visitors, many of whom have never been here before,” Fortescue said. “They come because there are activities and it’s something that is family friendly. You’ll see lots of intergenerational audiences, which is really what we’re about.”

A member of Los Master Plus during the Catrina Music Fest at the McAllen Convention Center on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

“We’ve seen a steady stream of guests all day since the entertainment has been spread out,” added Anastasia Perez, the development and marketing director for IMAS. “We had Mujer RGV, the catrina contest, ballet folklorico, the lecture, a guitarist who’s going to play. There’s something all day.”

The Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg also hosted their own Dia de los Muertos event on Saturday titled, “Recuerdos y Ofrendas.” The event featured traditional Mexican dancing, food vendors and face painting.

Also featured inside the museum were numerous ofrendas. One ofrenda in particular was students from the UTRGV Environmental Awareness Club in honor of migrants and asylum seekers who have died in the RGV.

The ofrenda featured tributes to nine migrants and asylum seekers, something that Fátima Garza, a UTRGV Environmental Awareness club member said was necessary.

Mariachi Margaritas performs during the Catrina Music Fest at the McAllen Convention Center on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

“What better way to bring remembrance and commemorate the tons of blood that has been shed because of many, many different factors here in the RGV,” Garza explained.

She said that in all, it took about two weeks to put the ofrenda together.

“We spent two weeks researching the lives of these people,” Garza said. “Personally, it was such an honor, and a beautiful experience.”