California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Margarita Taco Festival hosted in Simi Valley

    On Saturday, March 31,  the Welcome Home Soldier Foundation (WHSF) hosted an event in Simi Valley called The Margarita Taco Festival. This festival was entirely nonprofit, as are all the events the organization hosts.

    The festival took place in the Simi Valley Town Center parking lot and had two rows of vendors with shopping, food, games and live music.

    Founded in Ventura County in 2011, the WHSF puts on local events to gather communities and donate their earnings from ticket sales to all soldiers ranging from WWII veterans to current military men and women. Their motto on their website is, “Honor, Respect, Embrace.”

    “It’s 100 percent nonprofit; everything that happens here goes directly back to the nonprofit organization. A lot of sponsorships happen behind the scenes,” said Areli Lopez, a volunteer for the WHSF.

    Lopez said to get vendors to participate in their events, the organization reaches out to as many as possible. They also contact performers for live entertainment.

    She said that the bands were mainly chosen for their support for military veterans but they also had to have rhythm. The bands included “Lineup,” “Hammer of the Broads,” and the headliner band, “Relish.” These groups were interviewed by the WHSF before booking their performances.

    “Everything has to be fun. If it does not scream, ‘let’s dance and celebrate’, we don’t want them,” Lopez said.

    The event was themed tacos and tequila to kick off the new spring weather. The foundation said they were sure everyone would love it.

    “We know everyone loves margaritas, so we are all about bringing something that’s different. As far as margaritas go, margaritas and tacos went hand in hand and it’s just been a blast. It’s just more festive and fun,” Lopez said.

    Riley Chamberlain, Simi Valley native, attended the Taco and Margarita Festival with two of her friends. She said the process of buying tickets was very easy and there were different wristband options.

    On the WHSF website, the tickets automatically take you to eventbrite.com which had options of how much you wanted to spend on your wristband ticket ranging from about $12-$40. Depending on which option you chose, you would be able to get a free beer, multiple free margaritas and/or free tacos.

    “I heard about this through my friends and we bought our tickets through eventbrite.com. We’ve never really been to anything like this before and we are all home for Easter, so we decided why not?” Chamberlain said.

    Chamberlain said that the only thing she wished could have been different was for there to have been more taco trucks since the line was about 30 minutes long.

    Ciara Lavizzo was another attendee at the festival with her husband, Vance. They live in Simi Valley and were planning to meet up with the rest of their family. 

    “It’s perfect for us because not much happens around here and we didn’t have to drive very far. Vance and I were also happy to support a good cause,” Lavizzo said.

    At each event, a small ceremony takes place at the center stage to pay respect to former and active military personnel, and plaques are given in their honor. 

    “Despite the fact that we are all having fun, we do take a moment to stop, do the honoring of the flag as well as honor any veterans or active duty. We stop the entire event and remind everybody why they’re having a great time—because of the veterans; it is their moment,” Lopez said.

    The WHSF is planning to have their next event on Cinco de Mayo at the same location. This event’s theme will be called the Strawberry Tequila Festival and will offer multiple wristband options for people 21 and older. All the information to purchase tickets can be found on their website.

    Brooke Oyler
    Reporter