Dia de los Muertos stands as a major cultural festival that is both reverential and celebratory in honoring loved ones who have died. With such an important mission, Bakersfield is lucky to have two long-running events recognizing the day.

One is in its 25th year, taking place Thursday at the Eagles Hall downtown, the other, held by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will head to the Kern County Museum on Sunday. Both will be a celebration of traditions, entertainment, crafts, food and more.

On Thursday, the Dia De Los Muertos Expo returns to the Eagles Hall on 17th Street. Although it has been held in a number of venues, including Golden State Mall, the expo has now settled at the hall. Organized by directors Cruz Ramos and Irene Mendoza, the celebration is described as a traditional, old world Mexican-style event with altars made by the community to "honor and welcome the dearly departed."

The evening will also include musical and folklorico dance performances — including Grupo Folklorico Escuelas Unidas and Grupo Folklorico de San Agustin — crafts, food and vendors selling skeleton art as well as traditional goods. This year's event will also include a homemade pinata contest, featuring decorated items made in a workshop led by Ramos last month.

Attendees are encouraged to paint their faces and "skeletonize."

Keep the celebration going later this week for Sunday's Dia de los Muertos event put on by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In its ninth year — and the second at the Kern County Museum — the chamber celebration is also centered on families, with altares and a number of children's activities, including sugar skull decorating, skull face painting and other crafts. 

Entertainment will be provided with folklorico dancers, mariachi music and cultural performances, including sets from Mariachi San Marcos, Mento Buru and Ballet Folklorico Huaztecalli. The day will also begin with a traditional Aztec procession and blessing.

Vendors and local organizations will have booths with information, merchandise and more. Other vendors will sell authentic Mexican cuisine and refreshments.

Last year's event drew hundreds to the museum grounds. 

“This has become one of our most popular events of the year," said Jay Tamsi, president/CEO of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, in a news release. "It is a family-friendly event, which provides cultural and educational awareness to all ethnicities and cultures.”

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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