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Sonoma County Mexican Heritage Fair: Family, fun and vaccines

For the Campos family, attending Sunday’s Celebration of Mexican Heritage & Health Fair in Sonoma — which featured folklórico dancing, shiny lowriders, and mariachi music — meant remembering their beloved roots.

“Watching this mariachi band reminds me of when I’d hear mariachi during fiestas in my neighborhood in Mexico,” Claudia Campos, 32, said as she sat with her family in a grass field and watched the performance of a live mariachi band. “It makes me feel good. It’s a good reminder of where you come from.”

The lead singer of the band that Campos watched agreed.

“I wouldn’t change any of my traditions for the world,” Apolo Cortes, 57, of Mariachi Azteca of Napa, said. “Every time I hear mariachi, it’s like a blessing from God. This is from my culture’s history. It really means a lot.”

Hosted by VIDA, the fair drew nearly 2,000 people to Sonoma Plaza, officials said.

An annual event that is held on the Sonoma Plaza, the fair usually commemorates Mexican Independence Day. This year, though, it also recognized the importance of wellness and safety as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge across the North Bay.

Besides the music, food vendor booths, arts and crafts, the car show and performances, the fair featured a “health zone,” where the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center offered free vaccinations.

The coronavirus has had a particularly devastating impact on the Latinx community, which represents just over a quarter of Sonoma County’s population, but has suffered 58% of the county’s COVID-19 cases, according to county health data.

North Bay social service groups, such as the family resource nonprofit La Luz Center and the CURA Project, were also present to offer health education outreach. CURA (short for COVID-19 Urgent Response and Aid) connects residents to local health services and provides financial assistance for those who’ve lost wages due to the pandemic.

“I wanted to bring my community together to celebrate and kick-off Latino Heritage Month, but I also needed to make sure people could get vaccinated too,” said event organizer Angie Sanchez, who is also founder of VIDA, an organization dedicated to building community through arts and culture. “That was a very important aspect.”

You can reach Staff Writer Mya Constantino at mya.constantino@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5220. On Twitter @searchingformya.

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