Mexican Village Celebrates Latino Culture at the Fair
Since its construction in 1976, the Mexican Village has been a gathering place for the local Latino community during the fair. What once was a back alley used to collect trash, has now become a block-long mercado of commercial booths and food vendors, as well as a place to visit with friends and family and to enjoy Latin and World music performances.
The effort to create the Mexican Village was spearheaded by Robert Maes, a member of the Fair board at the time. Maes collected funds from sponsors in the local Hispanic community and obtained a grant from the state to create an outdoor stage, a historic mural and to add wrought iron decorations. The following year a wood and plaster fašade was created as an homage to the missions of California and matching arches were added.
The mural, depicting the evolution of Mexican-American culture, was created by Sonoma State ethnic studies professor, Daniel Lopez. Part of the mural was destroyed during the construction of the nearby Redwood Theater but most of the mural still provides the backdrop for the length of the village. On the stage, mariachi bands, local singers and dance troupes would perform for the Mexican Village audience. Due to the congregation of large crowds, the stage was eventually removed to accommodate more people. Music is still performed daily in the Mexican Village, although the acts are now limited to smaller groups due to the lack of stage. Fairgoers can enjoy Mexican food favorites, cold beer and shopping every day during the Sonoma County Fair in the Mexican Village.