Two upcoming events will be held in different communities to raise funds for one cause with a lot of heart.

A Chili Unplugged Cook-off will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Greenhorn Grill in Alta Sierra while the second annual Helping Little Hearts benefit will take place 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 at the Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. For the chili event, sampling tickets are $5 each while team contestants can enter for $50 each. Tickets for the Bakersfield benefit, which will feature entertainment by Eddie Money and Monty Byrom, will be $40, plus a small fee.

Proceeds from both events will benefit Mended Little Hearts of Bakersfield, a nonprofit that supports services, research and activities for children with congenital heart defects, said group coordinator Joy Byrom. She got involved in the group as a way to help children like her son, Jake, who was born with a heart defect.

"Because of my event last year, I was able to take a whole group (of children) to Disneyland," Byrom said. "It was an amazing day I will never forget."

Jake is an 8-year-old second-grader at Sing Lum Elementary. Although his last surgery happened when he was 4, Jake must still see the cardiologist once a year.

"We feel very lucky he is doing so well considering before the surgery he could barely even run," Byrom said.

For more information, contact Joy Byrom at 304-2173 or www.bakersfield.mendedlittlehearts.net.

Got salsa?

The Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is looking for a few good contestants who believe they can dish up the best salsa around.

The chamber is organizing its inaugural Salsa Cook-off Sunday, Sept. 16, at Stramler Park. It will be a part of the KCHCC's first Mexican Independence Day Celebration event, said Jay Tamsi, CEO/President of the KCHCC.

Given that National Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off this month, Tamsi said it made sense to host such a cultural event that will feature a good mix of Latin food, children's activities, business vendors and live band entertainment, including Mento Buru and Hind Site, a dance and Top 40 cover band from Southern California.

Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16 is recognized as a holiday in Mexico as it marks the start of Mexico's revolt against Spanish rule. In the United States, it takes on more of a cultural celebration with festivals and/or parades planned in communities around the same day.

The KCHCC's Mexican Independence Day event will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Stramler Park. Tamsi expects the Salsa Cook-off to be one of the event's highlights.

Contestants who would like to participate must be ready to prepare their salsa at the event and compete against their peers. Salsa categories include red, green, mild, medium and hot, among others. Winners from two areas -- amateur and restaurants -- will be announced. Cash prizes and trophies will be awarded to top three in both sections. Interested contestants must sign up prior to the event.

For more information, contact Tamsi at 633-5495 or visit www.kchcc.org.

Folkloric performance

Teacher Jorge A. Maldonado Morales has been busy promoting Voces Veracruzanas, a group that will be performing 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14 at Shafter High School as part of a scholarship fundraiser.

Voces Veracruzanas, which is directed by master harpist and director Rafael Dominguez Viveros, is a young group of musicians from Veracruz, Mexico, performing Son Jarocho and Latin American folkloric music, Maldonado said. Group members are Jose Juan Alarcon, Elfego Villegas and Emuir Reyes, and they have performed globally in countries such as Japan, Germany, Peru and Spain.

"Through their research, they preserve, educate and promote Mexican folkloric traditions and culture through music," Maldonado said.

"The reason for the concert is to raise funds for scholarships for Shafter High School students. The cultural event is to raise cultural awareness, connect our students and the community with a different culture and let them experience world music. The concert will allow the community in large to have an opportunity to experience music of the first magnitude."

Presale tickets are $15 and $20 at the door. For more information, call Maldonado at 205-5499.

These are the opinions of Olivia Garcia, not necessarily those of The Bakersfield Californian. Reach her at ogarcia@bakersfield.com.

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