Family-friendly Santa Cruz events: Mission Hill birthday, Mole & Mariachi festival

Mariachi Gilroy, a performer at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival

Mariachi Gilroy, a performer at the 2014 Mole & Mariachi Festival

Here are a couple upcoming family-friendly events in Santa Cruz.

Mission Hill Creamery’s 2nd birthday celebration: Monday, Sept. 15, 2014
Owner Dave Kumec invites the community to visit Mission Hill Creamery’s Scoop Shop and Dessert Café on Monday, Sept. 15 – all day and until they close – for a $1 birthday scoop of ice cream. This special discount is his way of saying thanks for all your support.

A bit of history, as told by Dave:
Mission Hill Creamery started 4 1/2 years ago in the Culinary Center of Santa Cruz on Front Street. From those humble beginnings, we have grown to our current location and now offer a variety of ice creams, desserts, novelties, milkshakes, floats, as well as a full coffee and tea menu, and packed pints. Our products are distributed in nine counties and growing. Come help us celebrate as we happily grow into our third year in our Pacific Avenue Creamery store.”

Location: 1101B Pacific Avenue near Cathcart, next to Taqueria Vallarta and across the street from Kianti’s
Hours for 9/15 celebration: Noon to 11 pm

Mole & Mariachi Festival: Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014
The 2nd annual event is from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park, and it offers lots of fabulous food—and not just mole! In addition to local food, wine, beer, and other beverages, guests can enjoy music and dance performances, kids’ crafts and a piñata, and a raffle. I attended last year, and it was great fun for the whole family. There is free admission.

This year, nine local restaurants and chefs will prepare moles. Festival attendees and a panel of local celebrity judges will select their favorites. Santa Cruz restaurant El Jardin won “People’s Choice” last year. If you want to sample moles, there is a $10 tasting kit for sale. A list of mole competitors and other vendors is below.

All event proceeds benefit Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. Want to avoid the trouble of parking your car? There will be bike valet service at the park, as well a free trolley to the festival from downtown Santa Cruz.

For more info, visit www.thatsmypark.org. Watch a 30-second Mole & Mariachi PSA video here.

Location: Santa Cruz Mission Adobe State Historic Park, 144 School Street near downtown Santa Cruz

Mole competitors:

  • El Chipotle Restaurant in Soquel (preparing “rojo Oaxaqueño mole”)
  • El Jardin Restaurant in Santa Cruz (preparing “Jorge’s Traditional Mole”)
  • My Mom’s Mole from Watsonville (with a 25-ingredient Guanajuato-style sauce that is spicy, not sweet, prepared by chef Cesario Ruiz)
  • Lidia’s Taqueria in Watsonville (traditional Oaxacan dark mole with nopales [cactus paddles])
  • El Chino Restaurant in Santa Cruz (mole with poblano chiles)
  • The Kitchen at Discretion Brewing (Soquel brewery)
  • Vivas Restaurant in Santa Cruz (serves organic food)
  • Maya Mexican Restaurant in Scotts Valley (Michoacán mole)
  • Plaza Lane Optometry (a newcomer to the event, will prepare a staff member’s personal recipe featuring chocolate, peanuts and pumpkin seeds)

Vendors selling a variety of food/drinks:

  • El Jardin Restaurant
  • Garcia’s Fish Tacos
  • Mission Hill Creamery
  • Chocolate Restaurant
  • Sazon Mexicano
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
  • Discretion Brewing
  • Lagunitas Brewery

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.