LAMONT, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County celebrated Guelaguetza today. It's an annual event that's celebrated in 12 cities across California honoring Oaxacan culture.
The Guelaguetza is a multi-cultural event, full of folkloric dances, traditional music, arts and crafts. It's one of the most attracted events celebrated in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.
“In Oaxaca, it's traditional dances, what we bring is joyful,” performer Nazareo Leon said.
Nazareo Leon was on stage along with many others representing all 8 regions of the state.
“Part of the dance is to illustrate the culture or tradition of those communities so that is what the dances represent," Executive Director Hector Hernandez said.
Hernandez says it was a day of celebration but the event also had a deeper meaning.
“For us it’s a day to have resistance because as you can see we have a lot of people that still speak the native language even after 500 years of conquer, our community is still active, they still speak the language. We have our culture, our traditions, we still have a lot of stuff in our communities and the Guelaguetza is a way to show that we’re still here," Hernandez said.
Hernandez says the word 'Guelaguetza' means offering sharing or giving.
“If my community provides, lets say they grow oranges, citrus, whatever, we give that to the rest of the communities and other communities do the same thing to us. That’s what it means it gives," Hernandez said.
He adds the event was held in Lamont because there is a large amount of indigenous people in the area. The goal is to attract the indigenous communities from Oaxaca and other states.
“When we talk about indigenous we're talking about only the ones that identify themselves as indigenous. Other people they start losing the language or they start losing their heritage and they don’t consider themselves no more as indigenous but we all have it in our blood it's apart of the history. A lot of them lost their native language but they don’t forget their roots," Hernandez said.
Leon says dance has brought his community closer.
“We meet, you know, a lot of friends that come from different parts of California from south to north California including Sacramento, Santa Maria, Fresno, and Napa, California," Leon said.
Kern County's event is held every year in the middle of October, but Hernandez says around the state, celebrations start as early as May.