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46th Annual Cabrillo Festival Brings History to Life

Created: 25 September, 2009
Updated: 26 July, 2022

 Cultures come together and history comes alive at the 46th Annual Cabrillo Festival, on Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27, one of the oldest cultural events in San Diego.

 This year’s festival opens with a 16th century Spanish Soldier’s Living History Encampment, on Saturday September 26 from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., at Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego’s National Park. The half hour National Park Service film, In Search of Cabrillo, will be presented in the Cabrillo National Monument auditorium at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

 The Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo and the Age of Exploration exhibit will be open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the visitor center. At 12:00 Noon, Historian Joseph Sánchez, Ph.D., Superintendent of the National Park Service’s Spanish Colonial Research Center and Petroglyph National Monument of Albuquerque, New Mexico, will present a PowerPoint presentation entitled Filipinas and the California Coast,1512-1793 in the auditorium.

 The festival continues with a concert by Navy Band Southwest Brass Ensemble, Kumeyaay Wildcat Songs by Jon Meza Cuero and the Aukas, and a Commemorative Ceremony and Wreath-Laying on Saturday, September 26 at 4:00 PM at the statue of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo (Joao Rodrigues Cabrilho), located at Cabrillo National Monument. Dr. Sánchez will give the keynote address.

 Because September 26, 2009 is National Public Lands Day, a “Fee Free Day,” no entrance fee will be charged at Cabrillo National Monument and all activities at the park will be free of charge.

 Beginning Saturday evening, the focus of the festival shifts from Cabrillo National Monument. The Cabrillo Discovery Celebration Dinner-Dance, sponsored by the Cabrillo Civic Club #16, will be held at the S.E.S. Hall, 2818 Avenida de Portugal, in Point Loma, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person and may be purchased by calling 619-426-0769.

 The main event of the festival is the Open House on Sunday, September 27, from 11:00 a.m.– 4:00 p.m. For the third straight year, the Cabrillo Festival Open House will take place at Ballast Point, believed to be the actual location where Cabrillo landed on September 28, 1542. Ballast Point is located on Naval Base Point Loma, at the south end of Rosecrans Street. Admission is free.

 The Cabrillo Festival Open House will feature colorful displays of dancing, storytelling and music from Mexico, Native America, Portugal and Spain.

2009 Miss Cabrillo Festival, Miss Janessa Garcia
2009 Miss Cabrillo Festival, Miss Janessa Garcia

 This event features Mexican, Native American, Portuguese and Spanish food; Kumeyaay basket weaving; a living history encampment, where 16th century Spanish soldiers demonstrate the arms, armor, implements and daily life; children’s activities, 2009 Miss Cabrillo Festival, Miss Janessa Garcia and 2009 Queen of the Casa de España, Miss LeAna Alvarez.

 The re-enactment of Cabrillo’s historic landing at Ballast Point, at 1:00 p.m., is always a highlight of the festival. Re-enactors dressed as Cabrillo and crew will sail into San Diego Bay aboard San Salvador (the revenue cutter Californian from the Maritime Museum of San Diego, which is the official tall ship of the state of California), landing at Ballast Point and “claiming the land” for the King of Spain. A special treat this year will be the presence of La Victoria (the clipper schooner Lynx from Portsmouth, New Hampshire) in Cabrillo’s small armada.

 Taken from the pages of history, the Cabrillo Festival brings to life the story of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese conquistador and explorer in Mexico and Central America, who spent his youth in Cuba.  Cabrillo sailed for the King of Spain in search of new lands and wealth and helped establish trade routes between Asia and the Americas, playing an important role in the beginnings of today’s global economy.

 Traveling along the West Coast of Baja California, Cabrillo and his crew eventually reached what is now known as San Diego on September 28, 1542, where they were met by the native Kumeyaay/Diegueño Indians, also known as Iipay or Tipay. Unaware of the historical significance of his voyage, Cabrillo secured his place in history and now thousands journey to Cabrillo National Monument each year to commemorate the explorer who touched so many of the cultures of present day San Diego. For more information about the Cabrillo Festival, visit the Cabrillo Festival website