Organizers of the Dia de Los Muertos Festival in Denison hope it will be a whole lot of fun for the whole family. For the sixth year, the Denison Arts Council will partner with the city of Denison and sponsors to present the Dia de Muertos Festival and Art Walk from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Denison shops will be geared up with art demos and special exhibits. Besides the 100-plus artists represented in galleries and art-related businesses, there will be many vendors from around the Texoma region offering uniquely original art for purchase at their booths along Main Street.
“Dia de Los Muertos is about celebrating life through music, art, dance and color and Denison has it all,” Denison Arts Council President Jennifer Knott said. “Come celebrate with us and enjoy Mariachis, Folklorico dancers, dozens of artists, car show, face painting and an incredible parade featuring giant puppets made for this event.”
The event will also include performances by Denison Dance Academy, the Aztec Dancers, a Mariachi band, the Little Goddess Tribe, Celina dancers and a parade.
“The event is a fun way to honor a heritage and culture derived from a large population of those in our communities,” Nick Underwood, who is in charge of entertainment and parade activities for the festival, said. “Anytime we can include those practices, while maintaining respect and authenticity, we are better off as people.”
Puppets from the parade will return to Heritage Park afterward for photo opportunities and a puppet contest.
“After a few years of attending and subsequently joining the Arts Council to plan the event, I have grown a fondness for it (the festival), especially with the entertainers,” Underwood said. “They have expressed gratitude in being able to share their skills and talent in honor of the holiday, the way they feel it should be expressed.”
Back in 2012, the festival was born out of a conversation at the home of Grayson College professor Steve O. Black. During the first years, only a few new things have been added. Besides the El Toro ride, a bounce house has been added and other fun for the young ones.
“We usually do not add anything new, but try to expand the elements already in place,” Underwood said. “More ofrendas, more parade participants, more cars in car show, etc.”
An example of this expansion is the number of puppets. The parade started with only five puppets and this year, there will be over 30. Black has also been conducting puppet workshops on Wednesday evenings for any interested parties.
When Knott was asked about her favorite part of the event, she said when she first saw the giant puppets, she was entranced.
“It was like being thrown into a fantasy land,” Knott said. “They are amazing.”
“The parade is my favorite part of the festival, despite not being able to see it as the spectators do, until I watch the video afterwards,” Underwood said.
There will be 48 art and merchant booths this year, including the traveling art gallery, a spray paint artist, jewelry, chocolate sugar skulls, face painting, pottery, Mexican imports, painting, henna tattoos and a vineyard selling wine. There will also be seven food vendors.
One of the local artists, Kendra Keefer-McGee, is planning to paint her horses for the parade.
“I think people should visit Denison’s Dia De Muertos celebration because we truly focus on the authenticity,” Underwood said. “We strive to follow direction from the Hispanic and Latino coordination in planning the event each year. Many aren’t aware of the roots being from a celebratory aspect of the lives of those lost and I think that, in general, is the best way to handle the death of our friends and family.”