olivia col

Shafter Police Chief Kevin Zimmermann with his daughters, Reagann and Jilliann, and their pets, Jima (bottom) and Mia, at the recent Blessing of the Animals at Saint Francis School.

A cultural festival that celebrates the life of deceased loved ones returns Sunday, Nov. 6 at Pioneer Village at the Kern County Museum.

The annual Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead will be held from 2 to 7 p.m., said Jay Tamsi, president/CEO of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the event.

“This is the Hispanic chamber’s last fundraiser of the year as a nonprofit; we rely solely on fundraisers to provide business services and cultural awareness in our community,” Tamsi said.

The Kern County Museum is a new location for the event, and organizers expect it will draw plenty of families as it has done in the past.

Among the highlighted events is a traditional Aztec processional and blessing. Entertainment includes mariachis and local band Mento Buru.

Visitors can also expect authentic Mexican cuisine, Mexican folklorico or folk dancing performances and a display of Altares or Altars that are created and dedicated to those loved ones who have passed away, Tamsi said. Children will also be able to enjoy fun sugar skull decorating, face painting and more at the Kid’s Craft Area, organizers added.

“This year, we are at a new and larger venue, which is the Pioneer Village at the Kern County Museum,” Tamsi said. “We have lots of activities for all ages and larger areas for the altars, as well as new entertainment.”

Proceeds will support chamber activities, Tamsi added. “We have much planned for the rest of the year, including the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce business academies in surrounding rural areas,” Tamsi said.

“With Kern County fundraisers like Dia de Los Muertos, it will allow us to begin the process to plan and organize such important projects and activities for our membership.”

The event is presented by Jim Burke Ford, Jarritos, Bright House Networks Business Solutions, and California Resources Corporations and sponsored by Dignity Health Mercy and Memorial Hospitals, Estrella Jalisco, Kern Federal Credit Union, Alta One Federal Credit Union and the Kern County Museum.

For Sponsorship, Exhibition Booth or Family Altar Spaces please contact the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at (661) 633-5495. For further event details visit our web page at www.kchcc.org.

Tickets are $5 per person; children ages 6 and under are free.


Students at Saint Francis School have wrapped up their annual Coins for Canines and Cats fundraising event to support local animal rescue.

“The effort has become a favorite of the students as they collect money, dog and cat food, towels, blankets, and other treats for needy animals,” said Sofie Zimmermann, a Saint Francis School board member whose daughters Reagann and Jilliann attend the school.

The fundraising event culminated this month with the annual Blessing of the Animals, which celebrated feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, Zimmermann said.

“The Blessing of the Animals is always amazing to behold, and it is a fitting end to all of the hard work and dedication needed during the fundraising portion of the effort,” she said. “The student’s efforts benefit several wonderful animal charities and it stands as an annual favorite for our students.

“The atmosphere at the blessing is always charged as the children gather to share their beloved pets with each other before the blessing. This year was no exception as they brought their animals two by two to receive a blessing as they honored the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi. Those blessed this year included goats, birds, reptiles, fish, bunnies, hamsters, dogs and cats.”

Zimmermann said the children look forward to the event each year and feel great knowing they are making a difference in helping animals in need.

The event “provides a chance for our students at Saint Francis Parish School to experience the power of participatory engagement through the lens of youthful compassion,” Zimmermann said.

Email contributing columnist Olivia Garcia at oliviagarcia2@icloud.com. Her work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are her own.

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