Over 100 guests attended BenitoLink’s Dia de los Muertos celebration on Nov. 1, a sentimental yet light-hearted evening under the stars.
The gathering was a combined effort between BenitoLink, 18th Barrel and Brewery Twenty Five. Attendees walked the 18th Barrel courtyard in elegant and haunting costumes, and those that came in their street clothes had a chance to transform their image with Face and Body Art by Marci. A beautiful ofrenda (altar) was handmade for the occasion, and guests brought their own small gifts and memorabilia to honor the departed.
18th Barrel owner Monica Ramirez contributed her outdoor courtyard and some of her wine selection. Monica and husband Anthony also donated their time and expertise throughout the event.
Brewery Twenty Five owners Sean and Fran Fitzharris poured a special offering: a unique beer batch just for the seasonal celebration called “Dulce de Muertos.” Their special release beer was a collaboration with Hollister business El Nopal Bakery.
Hollister resident Melodie Schwabacher crafted the event’s decorations after attending craft workshops put on by El Teatro Campesino over the month of October. Paper flowers filled the courtyard and dressed up the stage, tables, and outdoor bar. But most stunning of all was the ofrenda she designed for the evening. Schwabacher got the help of her neighbor to build the wooden, tri-level display. Pictures and mementos adorned the ofrenda, including gifts for her recently deceased father, mother-in-law and a few close friends. Included on the ofrenda was a framed photo of BenitoLink reporter Blaire Strohn, who passed away Sept. 25.
BenitoLink was well represented at the celebration by reporters Noe Magaña and Carmel de Bertaut, Marketing and Social Media Director Laura Romero, Content Manager Nicholas Preciado, Executive Director Leslie David, and board members Raul Céja and Karminder Brown. Special thanks goes out to additional volunteers Randy Brown, Emilia Chavez Preciado, Evan Buscher and Mona Asunción, and Melodie, Gordon, and Jackson Schwabacher who helped with set-up and take-down at the event. Music was by Tanner Hallinan Quartet.
A portion of the ticket cost from the celebration will go to support BenitoLink news production. Ticket donations were doubled by the Institute for Nonprofit News, a national foundation that supports nonprofit newsrooms all over the nation. BenitoLink’s annual fund drive, Pledge of Champions, goes from Nov. 1 until Dec. 31.
Other festivities happened in San Juan Bautista throughout the weekend. Jardines de San Juan held their popular tequila tasting on Friday night. San Juan Bautista hosted the 39th annual performance of dance company Esperanza del Valle at El Teatro Campesino with “Homenaje del Veracruz” as its theme. On Saturday evening, there was a procession around town displaying the beautiful costumes and art produced in the El Teatro workshops.