Food, Fun and the S.M. Festival This Weekend

When Santa Monica celebrates its city, it becomes a colorful festivity of arts, dance, worldwide music, theater, mouth-watering cuisine, shopping, ecology, and more than anything, it is a celebration of diversity and community roots.

"I hope that people will come, get a chance to meet their neighbors and take advantage of all the great services that their community provides," said Hamp Simmons, the cultural affairs coordinator of Santa Monica city.

The celebration of the 14th annual Santa Monica festival will be held, May 14th, and according to the city, since 1994 the festival has transformed Clover Park into the City's Town Square, where Sandta Monica can be explored in total. "The purpose is for everyone to celebrate diversity and cultural heritage," said Simmons.

Presented by the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division, Community and Cultural Services department and the Santa Monica Arts Commission, the festival will start with a procession of Afro-Brazilian drummers and dancers from the company Viver Brasil, including students from the Santa Monica College Brazilian dance class taught by Professor Yudin, as well as students from Hamilton High School.

The official kick-off for Walk Santa Monica is happening, which is a new project from the City's Active Living Program. This program was created to promote Santa Monica residents health and leisure time by encouraging them to walk 10,000 steps a day while enjoying and exploring the city's nice landscapes and sites. The festival-goers will be able to get maps specially designed for the project during the festival at the Walk Santa Monica booth.

As if the enchanting Brazilian drums are not enough to start taking the first 1,000 steps, a Windings Workshop will be held, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to build artsy devices that people can wear to catch the wind as they walk.

Many workshops will be available, also, such as the Hidden Wisdom Labyrinth, from noon to 5 p.m., held with the 18th Street Art Center, where participants will wrap up their own pearls of wisdom in a self-created and decorated Chinese take-out box that will then be exchanged for another's wisdom box.

In addition, the Santa Monica Museum of Art will be holding a Superhero Workshop, from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., helping participants construct superheroes that will make Santa Monica and the world a better place.

Furthermore, an "Eco Zone" will be displayed regrouping important organizations concerned with global environmental issues such as the City's Environmental Programs Division, The National Resources Defense Council, Treepeople and Heal the Bay.

Yahoo! and HBO stage talents are expected to set the tone for an afternoon of colorful, resonant music, dance, poetry and culture.

Yahoo! is the Santa Monica 2005 festival's community sponsor and will be hosted by Joe Hernandez-Kolski, currently hosting SiTV's "Not So Foreign Filmmakers Showcase," and D.J. Jedi, an important voice of the L.A. hip-hop and spoken word community. The performances will take place between 1 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.

A Maypole dance will happen on the Yahoo! stage, an ancient spring rite from the British Isles, and performed by local school children with Peggy Sue Fisher. It will be the first stage performance, from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. After the Youth Education / Entertainment Series, from 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., where the children of the Guild's Youth program will be performing musical numbers.

The Downbeat 720, presented by the city's Miles Playhouse where poetry and music meet, will be taking place from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Yahoo! stage will end with a Downbeat Showdown where festival-goers will elect the best 12th grade high school band, singer and poet.

HBO, this year's lead sponsor, will also illuminate the event with many talented performers. Maria Elena Fernandez, a Los Angeles writer and performer, will be the hostess of the ceremony, which will last until 7 p.m. Fernandez is famous for her current theater hit called "Confessions of a Cha Cha Feminist," which plots the artist's revolt against her traditional Mexican upbringing.

The first artistic performance of the HBO stage will be from Paul Livingstone and the Arohi Ensemble, at noon. The musicians will be playing world music with Indian, Afghani and Middle Eastern influences that was inspired by the 2005 Santa Monica Citywide Reads novel "The Kite Runner," by Khaled Hosseini. Exotic vibes will continue to flow with the Korean Classical Music and Dance Company at 1:45 p.m.

Then, a rendezvous with alternative music from The Hawks will occur, followed by the non-profit youth outreach organization Culture Shock, which uses hip-hop style to give a voice to the youth of L.A. Finally, the HBO stage will close with O-Maya and its mix of urban, hip-hop, soul and Afro-Latin rhythms from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For info on the event, please call the event info line (310) 458-8350.