HAY FESTIVAL! (Pronounced EYE FEHS-TEE-BAHL!)

By Ray Rodriguez

You, or your parents move to this special place, and you love
the open spaces, the creative energy, but you also realize
important things you left behind. There can be a disconnect
from your rich cultural heritage. Your examples can’t just be
negative portrayals when there is so much in your cultural roots
that can ignite a passion.
– Rolo Castillo

Photo by Sandra Goodin

Photo by Sandra Goodin

Photo by Ray Rodriguez

For the second year in a row “The Sanctuary” at The Joshua Tree Retreat Center was transformed into magnificent celebrations of Mexican Culture. Building on the instant success of the first Hay Festival, Rolo Castillo and the distinguished Festival committee, thrilled the region afresh with outstanding displays of Chicano/Latino/Aztlan art, music, dance, theatre, film, and cuisine.

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Unique elements of the second-year programming suggest Hay Festival’s bid to be dynamic and distinctive each year has hit the mark. This year not only featured fresh programming but showcased redesigned spatial efforts specific to each event. So impressive were the space designs, from double stages to Thrust Stage Theatre, that JTV Publisher Lisa Lynn dubbed Castillo, “The space whisperer.”

Dia de los Muertos featured a spectacular community altar with both planners and attendees contributing celebratory memories to deceased loved ones, individua tributes, face painters, vendors, breath taking mariachis, and a “where are you going to see this” contemporary collaboration of virtuosos Daveed Macias and Janie Cohen. Yum Yum Tacos provided welcome and tasty fuel for all.

Hay Festival! Dos, Committee 2023
Rolo Castillo, Artist, Altar Builder and Space Whisperer
Terry Taylor Castillo, Executive Director Joshua Tree
Retreat Center
Kristen Burkins, Executive Assistant Joshua Tree
Retreat Center
Jose Garcia Davis, Professional Theatre, Film, Video,
and Visual Artist
Licia Parea, Choreographer, Dancer, Danzantes, Latina
Dance Project, Latinx, Blaktinx,
Christy Addis-Gutierrez, Hay Cine Curator, Program
Director Fine Arts Film Festival, Venice
Martin Mancha, Art Direction, Graphic Design, Web
Design and Development
Dore Rios, Public Relations, Vendor Coordination
Ray Rodriguez, Joshua Tree Voice
Special thanks to Daveed Macias Musico extraordinario, Charro Lionel Lopez Rancho Escondido, Hutch, Jason Maxfield, Susie Thorp, Tracey Williams, Ben Donaldson, Bonnie Brady, and Yum Yum Tacos!

Photo by Sandra Goodin

“That is the largest amount ever raised at a Festival of Wreaths auction,” noted CMC Foundation Executive Director Sandy Smith. The event featured a live auction of wreaths created and donated by supporters throughout the hi-desert community, a silent auction, a dessert auction, ornaments, and holiday cards featuring art from six CMC student artists – a new CMC annual tradition.

In addition to all of these degree-oriented and vocational options, CMC is focused on ensuring everyone in our communities has access to an education with Adult Education Program locations in Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms, as well as the Military Academic Skills Program on base in Twentynine Palms.

Photo by Sandra Goodin

Photo by Sandra Goodin

Most noteworthy was the participation and contributions of the Echeverria Villalba family. Having lost a daughter in an accident on nearby Hwy 62 some years past, they distributed complimentary tamales and Champurrado (traditional chocolate based atole, a comforting sweet/hot beverage) to hundreds of attendees.

But that was just the beginning. Professional dance companies, world showcased theatrical performances, cinematic triumphs, charro horsemanship, The Streets of Tijuana, delicious cuisine, and the famed Las Chorizeras singing group from LA all made for a spectacular 3-week emersion in Mexican cultural heritage.

With such early triumphs, enthusiastic support from locals of all backgrounds, ingenious programing and a growing buzz all seem to ensure HAY FESTIVAL! will build on its successes for years to come.

Photo by Jose Garcia Davis

Photo by Sandra Goodin

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