The first annual Guacamole Festival, though light on the green stuff, was a good-spirited and relatively well-attended community fundraising event to benefit Sacred Heart High School in Lincoln Heights.

Unfortunately, on Saturday blistering heat kept many people away and the guacamole mostly in the fridge. However, the scant guacamole that was available was fresh, spicy, and served with pride. The low guacamole quotient also in no way detracted from the other delicious food, including tacos, burritos, pupusas, enchiladas, corn on the cob, aquas frescas, fresh fruit, and whole avocados straight off the tree.

The soda drinking contest was also a highlight, and Sunday's headlining performers, a 12-piece Latin rock/jazz band, were the perfect musical backdrop for a Mexican meal.

A positive message pervaded the event, as residents were repeatedly thanked for their donations to Sacred Heart and encouraged to participate in the next community council election. The Lincoln Heights community, which boasts a population of 35,000 in the area above the 10 freeway, east of the 110 freeway, and west of Soto Street, generally has a voter turnout of less than 500 in neighborhood council elections. All residents older than 13 years, who “live, work, study, pray or play,” in Lincoln Heights were asked to register for the next local election.

This community has endured much during its history. One of Los Angeles' oldest neighborhoods, Lincoln Heights was violently bifurcated by the construction of the Golden State freeway in the fifties. Later, the massive “artist's colony,” The Brewery spurred worries that gentrification had finally seeped over the LA River and would spill into this lower and middle class Latino community, forever changing its landscape. But this event, focused on local businesses, culture, and children, belied no trace of tensions. Instead, it seemed pleasantly centered on involvement in the community, local politics, and, of course, good food.

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