When Alexis Garcez started an Instagram account dedicated to showing the positive side of Santa Ana two years ago, she never thought she would be curating events for other creatives like herself.
But in December, the @Santanera_Living founder launched the first Gente Night Market, an evening-long pop-up where local creators, crafters and collectors sell their wares in an atmosphere that’s more social hour than a business meeting.
After her Christmas-themed market took over the Blue Lot in Downtown Santa Ana, Garcez followed up with last month’s “Oldies but Goodies” theme, where customers gathered around a shared interest in vinyl and vintage.
Saturday, Garcez is hosting an all-female version of her event in celebration of Women’s History Month. The “Women in Power” Gente Night Market is happening as part of Boca de Oro, Santa Ana’s literary arts festival, now in its fourth year.
“In doing my own pop-ups … a lot of the vendors I work with are women,” Garcez says. “I wanted to give them their own space.”
Angel’s Flowers sells fresh floral arrangements, Amor Por Vida reflects Latinx culture through papel picado and L.A. Donuts runs a food truck. Big Primpin Beauty Parlor will also be offering haircuts and gel manicures, all while female DJs spin music from 4-9 p.m.
“Some are going to school, have a business, it’s just crazy how much women can do,” Garcez says.
The festival is hosting over 50 events where poets, writers, artists, musicians, performers, and more take to the streets in Downtown Santa Ana.
Coollab Project, the popular weekly open-mic night, is going to have a 2-hour-long interactive workshop where musicians will offer suggestions on songwriting at Pizza Press from 5- 7 p.m.
Santa Ana College Theatre Arts students, led by Chris Cannon, assistant professor of acting and directing, are sharing short films based on self-awareness and the courage to change. Frida Cinema is playing the two student-produced works from 4-5 p.m.
Additionally, five Santa Ana Unified high school students are giving a history of the city to passengers aboard the festival’s first-ever trolley tours starting at 4 p.m.
“We have all these different things for people to find out,” says Boca de Oro co-founder Madeleine Spencer. “I think the hardest part of this festival is gonna be picking something to do because there’s just so much.”
In another first, Boca de Oro attendees can use a smartphone app called SAUSD Arts to check schedules and navigate the dozens of simultaneous events.
“All of our stories matter, and it is up to us to use our creative talents to reclaim our narratives and share the beauty and complexities of our experiences with others,” says novelist Zara Raheem, Boca de Oro’s keynote speaker.
Boca de Oro takes place on March 7 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. in Downtown Santa Ana. For more information and a schedule of events, visit bocadeoro.org