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Mesa Mask Festival Asks Attendees To Get Creative And Outrageous

The pandemic tore through arts communities nationwide during 2020, prompting the cancellation of in-person events in Arizona well into 2021.

With widely available vaccines, many event sponsors are now more comfortable hosting in-person shows, exhibits and jubilees like the annual Mask Alive Festival, which returns Sunday afternoon from 2-5 p.m. at Mesa’s Pioneer Park after a virtual exhibition last year. Carmen Guerrero, executive director of Cultural Coalition and the festival, says attendees are encouraged to “mask-up” with creative facial coverings and a prize will be awarded for the most outrageous.

 “This is also an event we call ‘arts creative place-making.’ It’s like reclaiming a public space especially Pioneer Park here in Mesa. We’re reclaiming that space to create art to do something creative with the kids and the community," Guerrero said. 

Now in its fourth run, the festival hosts a wide array of artistic expressions such as dancing, performance art, as well as music with an emphasis on performers and attendees wearing masks that represent a variety of cultures — not just those indigenous to the Southwest.   

The free event will offer food for sale, and attendees are encouraged to wear facial coverings under their decorative masks — though they are not required — as well as to bring their own blankets or chairs. A prize will be awarded for the most creative mask worn.

Schedule of Performances:

2 p.m. – Welcome by artist Zarco Guerrero
2:10 p.m. – Desert Sounds Music
2:40 p.m. – Sankofa African Drums
3:10 p.m. – Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli
3:40 p.m. – Ken Koshio & Taiko Drumming
4:10 p.m. – Astarte Belly Dancing
4:30 p.m. – Mask Raffle Winner Announcement
4:40 p.m. – Axé Capoeira Brazilian Dance
4:55 p.m. – Dance of the Cucuis, Mask & Puppet Parade

Tom Maxedon was the host of KJZZ’s Weekend Edition from 2017 to 2024.