Topeka Dia de los Muertos Festival brings its fourth annual art fair

Lisa Herdman

The Topeka Dia de los Muertos Festival is bringing live music, art, food, face painting and some of Topeka’s handmade and vintage vendors for its fourth annual art fair every Friday in October at the NOTO Artsplace.

Each day of the festival offers different events and entertainment. Some events sponsored by the festival will be held at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, Mulvane Art Museum, Sabatini Art Gallery and the Kansas Historical Society.

The events taking place outside of the Artsplace include workshops, art displays, crafts and family days to bring children. The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library offers story-time and crafts for children on Oct. 24 to learn about the Day of the Dead and to get involved in projects with the family.

The art fair in the NOTO Artsplace offers a venue for vendors around Topeka to come and sell their items. On Oct. 10 the festival held a street fair; vendors in tents lined the streets of NOTO Arts District offering many products, including jewelry, art and food. A few vendors offered face paint and balloon animals.

Vendors included handmade items like those of Dreamy Designs by Jessica Reedy, P’s and Q’s, Sam Gomez Wood Carvings and crafts by Tina DeLaRosa. These booths sold bracelets, scarves, wooden fixtures, aprons and canvas bags.

Multiple food carts were present at the festival, and one stand cooked meat out of a giant metal grill. A separate area was set aside to eat at tables.

“It’s my first time at the Dia de los Muertos Festival, and I didn’t know what to expect,” said Mary Bond, the owner of Hot Diggity Food Cart. “The festival is so colorful, and it looks like a lot of people are bringing their families. I think there will be a good turnout today.”

Families with children could participate in the “Kid Zone,” an alley decorated with tables full of crafts and activities. One stand let children “fish” with a fishing pole for prizes.

The main attraction at the festival was the stage, set up for multiple bands and performers to entertain. Bands sang songs representing the Day of the Dead and its importance. About 50 chairs were set up to seat an audience, and let them talk to and interact with performers.

The event is hosted by Tonantzin Society, and includes multiple sponsors, including Cox, Bartlett and West, Security Benefit, Kansas Historical Society, Heartland Visioning and the Washburn Mulvane Art Museum.

Scott Magnet Dual Language School hosted a table selling confetti eggs, or what are known as “cascarones.”

“There are just so many vendors set up today, I can’t wait to take a look around,” said Veronica Fierro, the representative for Scott Magnet Dual Language School. “I think this is a great place for families. There is so much to do.”

Fierro said this was her first time at the Day of the Dead Festival. The dual language school she represents wants to teach children to appreciate what the Day of the Dead really represents: remembering family members that have passed away.