ruben dario villa la ofrenda festival
Ruben Dario Villa, shown in his studio at 6th Street Studios and Art Center in downtown Gilroy, is the event director for the inaugural La Ofrenda Festival, scheduled for Oct. 28. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Gilroy’s inaugural La Ofrenda Festival on Oct. 28 promises not only to be a great time, event director Ruben Dario Villa said, but will also create a lasting legacy.

That’s because the event is raising funds for the endowed Marigold Youth Scholarship, through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Gilroy Foundation and Latino Family Fund.

The scholarship will be awarded to first-generation college students who are interested in pursuing a career in the arts.

Villa said there are many opportunities for young people to receive scholarships in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field, but there is a void for students who are interested in creative endeavors.

“If a high schooler has the bravery to say, ‘that’s what I want to do,’ then they need to be supported,” he said.

The scholarship is just one part of the multifaceted La Ofrenda Festival, which celebrates the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos.

The event, which will be held in downtown Gilroy from 1-7pm, was one of the beneficiaries of the inaugural Gilroy Elevate the Arts grants, a program by SVCreates. Funding for the grants was from the City of Gilroy, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the County of Santa Clara. 

To be selected, projects, among other things, must raise the visibility of local arts, engage the community and support arts as an economic driver in Gilroy. 

ruben dario villa la ofrenda festival
Planning for La Ofrenda Festival has hit a high gear, with merchandise soon to hit the streets of Gilroy. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Villa said he felt a void in Gilroy’s festival scene when he began planning the event.

“I felt like Gilroy needed another great opportunity to come together,” he said.

In conversations with Gilroy community members, Villa said he found immense support for the idea, with many people signing on to help make it a reality.

“What an amazing opportunity to not just have the sweat equity behind the festival, but also the financial support through SVCreates,” he said. “Everything came together at the perfect moment. I feel like we got lightning in a bottle.”

The main attraction at the festival will be the Camino de Ofrendas, a collection of nearly 40 altars on Fifth Street honoring the deceased, with Villa saying the goal is to transform the area “into another dimension.” Those will lead up to La Gran Ofrenda on Eigleberry Street, a 10-foot-tall altar created by local artists and youth.

By getting young people involved in the festival, Villa hopes it will help pass down cultural traditions to the next generation.

In addition to arts vendors, the festival will also feature a wellness fair consisting of local health organizations. A community bike ride with multiple route options is also on tap.

Live music, folklorico performances, a kids zone, car show and other entertainment will be offered throughout the day.

Villa said he is thankful for the many sponsors who have jumped on board.

For information on La Ofrenda Festival, including sponsorships and volunteer opportunities, visit

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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