EDINBURG — The Museum of South Texas History (“MOSTHistory”) invites the community to discover a tradition continued Oct 28 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“Cempasúchil: Flower of the Dead” is a celebration of life modeled on the traditions of Meso-American and Catholic cultures with food, drinks, music, dancing and memories of loved ones.
In the fall of each year, in Mexican states like Oaxaca, Guerrero and the mountains of Michoacán, families guide the return of the souls of their ancestors with simple or elaborate wreaths, crosses and arches of cempasúchil (marigold) flowers. Representative of the sun, the “flower of 20 petals” is cultivated throughout the region and harvested in preparation for the return of the faithful departed. Home altars are adorned with freshly picked cempasúchil, and petals are often strewn on the floor to create a path for returning spirits.
MOSTHistory’s community-built altar exhibit is always a highlight of the event and will be on display from Oct. 28 to Nov. 12. New this year, the Children’s Bereavement Center of the RGV will conduct a demonstration of traditional Mexican tapetes (sand art) where the community is invited to participate in creating the final art piece. Gravestones and tombs in the panteón (cemetery) are cleaned and decorated with ofrendas (gifts) and hundreds of cempasúchil flowers and candles. Returning this year is Screen Actors Guild member and artistic director of the Pharr Community Theater Company, Pedro García, for his live performance of The Life and Times of Juanito Gonzalez to take place in the panteón at 7 p.m.
The main performance tent will feature performing talents from the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. Festivities will open with Edinburg North H.S. Mariachi Oro followed by Edinburg North H.S. Conjunto Dorado Norteño. The dance stage will explode with color and music as dancers take to the stage. Performing this year are Las Palmas Community Center Ballet Folklórico of McAllen, Grupo Folklórico of Mission, ECISD Economedes H.S. Grupo Folklórico Jaguar, Alcorta’s Compañia de Danza Folklórica from Corpus Christi, Conceptos Entidad Dancística from Edinburg, Edinburg Folklórico Dance Team, Edinburg North H.S. Ritmo Dorado, EHS Ballet Folklórico Kuxtal, EHS n-Motion Dance Company, PSJA North H.S. Grupo Folklórico and Mission Parks & Rec Ballet Folklórico.
Joining us from San Antonio, Texas is the Tejano-Conjunto Latin rock band Rio Jordan. Continuing the legacy of local music legend Esteban (Steve) Jordan, the sons of Esteban will celebrate his accomplished musical career with a live performance. Rio Jordan will also be creating a special altar, to be featured in the museum’s Grand Lobby, to honor the memory of their late-great father. UTRGV show choir group, Treble Thrivers, continues with performances of classic Mexican songs and acapella renditions of music from “The Book of Life.” The live music continues with post-progressive Latin rock band Dezorah, presented by Toro Booking. From the Rio Grande Valley, Dezorah’s music blends danceable rhythms with aggressive guitar riffs and soaring vocals that tell a story of life and beyond. Closing out the performances is Chulita Vinyl Club. With seven national chapters, Chulita Vinyl Club is an all-girl all-vinyl group aimed to bring together a community of classic analog music fans.
Visitors will discover more activities throughout the MOSTHistory including sugar skull decorating for $3 and free crafts like cardboard lanterns, paper calavera masks and paper cempasúchil flowers. Be sure to take photographs in front of the life sized monarch wings and eight foot tall flower archway. On display, in the Classroom, will be copies of prints from famed printmaker and engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada. UTRGV student organization, Book Buzz, will be on hand to conduct Día de los Muertos read aloud performances for kids and families.
MOSTHistory will be filled with the smells of foods and desserts. New this year is Nuri Food Truck serving their delicious Nuri Taco, Korean karnitas taco and Kimchi Rice with Fajita. Other favorite menu items include guisados en olla de barro (stews), pozole, elote en vaso (corn in a cup), roasted corn, fresh fruit cups, mango en flor (flower cut mango), fresh coconuts, fresas con crema (strawberries in cream), pan dulce (sweet bread), raspas, funnel fingers, nieve Mexicana (Mexican ice cream) and calaveritas de chocolate (chocolate skulls). Wash it all down with a cup of aguas frescas, sodas, sweet champurrado or a beer from McAllen based brewer Rabble Rouser Brewing Company (while supplies last).
Artisan vendors will fill the MOSTHistory with goods like flower headbands, Oaxacan tops, textiles, handmade jewelry, embroidered jewelry from Cinco Wildflowers, ceramic skulls, Mexican chaquira jewelry, silver jewelry from Guerrero, Mexico, and balloon twisting by Balloons and Faces. Visit the pop-up botanica, by Rio Grande Valley curandera Danielle López, to discover local beliefs about healing medicine and folklore. Don’t forget to get in the Día de los Muertos spirit by getting your face painted like a calavera (skull) with any of the multiple face painters on site.
The 14th annual Día de los Muertos festival is included in the regular museum admission: $7 adults (ages 18+); $5 seniors with ID (ages 62+) and students with ID (ages 13+); $4 for children (ages 4 to 12); free for children ages 3 and younger. FRIENDS of the Museum are admitted free as a benefit of FRIENDships.