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Sonoran festival to celebrate, educate about the Sky Islands region

A two-day festival in northern Sonora this weekend will be the first in the state to celebrate the sky islands region of Arizona and Sonora.

The first  Sky Islands Festival in Sonora is being held in the town of Moctezuma, about 120 miles south of the Arizona border.

The event this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14-15, will celebrate the rich biodiversity of the Madrean Sky Islands — isolated mountain woodlands separated by “seas” of lower elevation desert and grasslands on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We want to help people here value this unique region,” said Mirna Manteca, a conservation biologist with the nonprofit Wildlands Network, one of the organizations putting together the festival in collaboration with local community groups.

She came up with the idea to bring people together to learn more about the Sky Islands and conservation efforts in the region.

There will be food, music and cultural activities like face painting and feline drawing contests for kids, as well as conservation focused talks and workshops.

And there will be hotels and camping areas available for  people visiting from out of town.

“Everyone is welcome,” Manteca said. “The more people who come the better it will be.”

Kendal Blust, an Arizona native, reports from KJZZ’s bureau in Hermosillo, Sonora, focusing on business and economic relationships between Arizona and northern Mexico.Prior to joining KJZZ, Kendal worked at the Nogales International, reporting on border and immigration issues, local government, education and business. While working on her master’s degree at University of Arizona School of Journalism, she did stints with the Arizona Daily Star and the Tico Times in Costa Rica, and completed a thesis project about women art activists in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands.In her pre-journalist life, Kendal was a teacher, first helping Spanish high school students learn English, then heading to Tucson to teach fourth grade.When she’s not in the newsroom, Kendal enjoys getting outside for a hike or a swim, catching a good movie, hanging out with family and friends, and eating great food.