Chamorro festival coming to San Marcos


A festival focused on the Pacific Island culture of the Chamorros on March 24 is expected to draw 10,000 visitors to the campus of California State University San Marcos.

The ninth annual Chamorro Cultural Festival is one of the largest such annual gatherings in the U.S. mainland and is organized by San Diego-based nonprofit Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity (CHE’LU) to share the heritage and customs of the people from the Mariana Islands, which include Guam, Rota, Tinian and Saipan.

The one-day celebration features music, dance performances, art and cultural food along with educational workshops. This year’s theme is “Ta-Silelebra i Lina’la’ Ginen i Lengguahi, Hinemlo’ yan Kuttura” – “Celebrating Life Through Language, Health and Culture.”

“San Diego has a large population of folks from the Mariana Islands and this is a great opportunity for the community to learn about their culture and heritage,” said Danny Blas, one of the event organizers.

Demonstrations will be given, for example, on husking a coconut and building a sailing vessel that can travel thousands of miles.

New this year is a kids zone with games, face painting and cultural crafts. The beer garden will be back along with island cuisine served by a number of vendors. Various items will be sold ranging from T-shirts and other apparel to crafts such as carvings.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the lawn in the main quad in the center of the campus, 333 N. Twin Oaks Valley Road. Admission and parking are free.

A kick-off concert, “Sounds of the Marianas” will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. March 23 at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club, 334 Willie James Jones Ave.

CHE’LU was established in 2005 and is run by volunteers to preserve the Chamorro through community programs, such as the Sakman Chamorro project and free youth cultural music, language, health and dance programs.