Community Leaders dance for their favorite charities at the 26th Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival.

Victor Rodriguez, Yesenia Peña, Dr. Marlene Batista, Marco Aguilar, Sommer Frisk, Erika Martin, Jesus Garcia, Diana Terre and Ben Escobar. Ernesto Martinez, Salena Bracamontes, Veronica De La Cruz and Adan De La Torre are ready to dance.

Sustainability Now News
by Maryann Ridini Spencer (@MaryannRidiniSpencer)

In the vein of the hit television series, “Dancing with the Stars,” on Sunday, July 28 at 1:00 pm during the 26th Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival presented by the Oxnard Downtowners, seven community leaders paired with local top dance instructors will compete in the “2019 Dancing with Our Community Stars Dance Contest and Charity Fundraiser.” The salsa competition, sponsored by Union Bank and La M 103.7, raises money for the dancer’s favorite charities.

“‘Dancing with Our Community Stars’ is one of the most anticipated events of the festival,” says Kellie Meehan, festival executive director. “Our competitors give it everything they’ve got to wow the crowd, and all will raising money for wonderful local causes.”

Who’s competing?

Victor Rodriguez, dances with his instructor Yesenia Peña, for Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit where he sits on the board. Rodriguez, an immigrant whose family settled in the Cabrillo Village farmworker community in Saticoy, is passionate about providing affordable housing and assists with the organization’s mission providing comprehensive housing services and community economic development activities for individuals and families most lacking in opportunity in Ventura County.

Veronica De La Cruz, a sales manager for Union Bank, dances with instructor Adan De La Torre for Clean International, an organization dedicated to ensuring that every person around the world has access to sustainable clean water and sanitation.

Sommer Frisk, regional vice president of Cumulus Broadcasting, dances with instructor Jesus Garcia for Rancho Ventura Conservation Trust. As one of the nonprofit’s board members, she works to support programs that permanently conserve the working landscapes located in the foothills above the City of Ventura.

Agustín “Aluche” Ballesteros (aka the cheerful and funny “Solovino” on La M 103.7 FM), dances with his instructor Erika Martin del Campo for MERITO Foundation, an organization committed to protecting the ocean by facilitating education, conservation and scientific research opportunities to multicultural youth and their communities.

Salena Bracamontes, who owns and operates two all-women State Farm offices in Ventura County, dances for Project Understanding. Bracamontes, who sits on the board, assists with Project Understanding’s mission to provide hope by developing and directing resources to transform lives and community through justice, mercy, and compassion.

Dr. Marlene Batista, Director of English Learner Services at the Oxnard School District, dances with instructor Marco Aguilar for Partnerships for Safe Families, the designated child abuse prevention council in the county.

Ben Escobar, the owner/operator of Affordable Auto Glass, dances with instructor Diana Terre for a topic close to his heart — American Society for Suicide Prevention — I’ve Got Soul. Escobar, who lost a close friend as well as a nephew to suicide, hopes to raise awareness of the resources available to those contemplating or struggling with depression.

Dancers will be competing for two awards. The “Judges Choice Award” presented for the best routine and the “People’s Choice Award,” which will be awarded to the dance team that raises the most money for their designated charity (donations made at

The festival, which draws approximately 35,000 annually, also features live bands, a salsa tasting tent, vendor marketplace, kid’s play zone, community stage, food vendors, and more. Festival hours will be Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm at Park Plaza in historic downtown Oxnard. Festival admission and parking are free. Main stage open seating is $5 and the salsa tasting tent is $5 per person (includes salsa and chips).

For more information on the event, visit

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