Salsa Lovers Rejoice: Oxnard Festival Returns with New Changes

The beloved Oxnard Salsa Festival, which was last held in 2019, is set to make its much-anticipated return next month. The festival, known for celebrating all things salsa—from the spicy sauce to vibrant music and dance—will take place over the weekend of July 27-28.

This year’s event will be held at downtown Oxnard’s Plaza Park, located at 500 S. C St., from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both days.

For the first time, the festival will charge an admission fee. Attendees will need to pay about $12, which includes fees. However, children aged 12 and younger will be admitted for free.

The admission fee covers access to entertainment and the various food and merchandise vendors, but salsa tasting will incur an additional cost.

This year, salsa samples come at a higher price. A ticket for the salsa-tasting lounge costs about $32. This price includes general admission, tortilla chips, six salsa samples, and a choice of either a beer, margarita, or bottled water.

Gary Blum, board chairman for the Oxnard Downtowners—the nonprofit organization that hosts the festival and other city events—explains that the introduction of an admission fee is necessary to cover rising costs.

“It’s very challenging to find festivals of this scale and experience that are not somehow monetized through admission,” Blum said.

The Oxnard Salsa Festival, launched in 1993, typically requires an annual budget of around $80,000 to $100,000.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the event hard, causing it to be canceled last year due to increased costs and other challenges. Blum stated that the organizers didn’t feel confident in moving forward under those circumstances.

Salsa Lovers Rejoice: Oxnard Festival Returns with New Changes

One significant change this year is the hiring of a new management company, CBF Productions, which also manages the Tequila & Taco Music Festival in Ventura. This change was necessary after the previous firm scaled back its operations. The exact costs of hiring CBF Productions are still being calculated.

In previous years, while the festival itself was free, some activities had associated costs. Attendees could pay $5 for seating at the main stage and an additional $5 for salsa tasting, which included tortilla chips.

The funds generated from the new admission fees and salsa tasting tickets will help cover increased expenses for security, insurance, and portable toilets, Blum explained.

“We know that change is difficult,” Blum acknowledged, especially for the festival’s “very passionate” attendees. This year, the festival will be fenced off for the first time, allowing attendees to walk the entire 5-acre grounds with an alcoholic beverage in hand.

Another new feature is that the event will be cashless, a move that organizers believe will streamline operations.

A temporary use permit is currently being submitted to the city to accommodate the festival’s new layout. Three entry points are planned to facilitate smooth entry and exit for attendees.

While some details on entertainment and salsa vendors are still being finalized, the festival promises a lively and engaging experience for all.

For those interested in attending, more information and tickets can be found on the festival’s website, The return of the Oxnard Salsa Festival is a sign of resilience and adaptability, showcasing the community’s ability to come together and celebrate despite recent challenges.

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