Clark County Parks and Recreation will present the 18th Annual Life in Death Festival: The Day of the Dead in Las Vegas from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 1 and 2 at Winchester Cultural Center and Park, 3130 S. McLeod Drive, just north of Desert Inn Road. This is the 18th year of honoring the dead and mocking death with the festival's patron, Elizadeath, in the guise of a Las Vegas showgirl. Admission is free but be sure to bring money for the traditional food and craft vendors. Parking is limited, so carpooling is highly recommended.
In the Mexican tradition, families and other groups build beautiful ofrendas (altars), glowing with candlelight, that are covered with the food, drink and other objects loved by the deceased while alive in order to lure them back for a visit. The ofrendas are elaborate works of art—beautiful, detailed and sometimes huge. They will be displayed outdoors in Winchester Park. Judges will award prizes of $500 to the creators of the three best ofrendas. Meanwhile, dance, music and humorous poetry remind us that death helps define life, and should not be feared.
Performances on stage each day will feature Mexican dance troupes and readings of "calaveras," or "skulls," which are poems, usually humorous, written "in memory" of people who are still alive. They treat the menace of death with good-natured humor and offer a chance to poke fun at prominent people. Judges will award calavera prizes of $100, $125 and $150. In addition, we are honored this year to be joined by Mono Blanco presenting "Fandango de las Calaveras". Together since 1978, this group has performed internationally and exemplifies the "son jarocho" style of music. They will be performing both days at 7:00 pm.
The Day of the Dead art exhibit will take place in the Winchester Cultural Center gallery from Tuesday, Oct. 16 through Sunday, Nov. 11. The "Best of Show" artists will be awarded $100 in the Youth category, $200 in the Amateur category and $300 in the Professional category. All participating artists including the "Best of Show" artists will be recognized on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. during the festival with written certificates of participation.
Those interested may contact the Winchester Cultural Center at (702) 455-7340 or visit the website at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov/parks. Clark County Parks and Recreation also can be found on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.