Driftless   Region’s      Día de los Muertos Celebration


A Mexican Cultural & Educational Event  



Día de los Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican cultural festival to honor loved ones who have passed away.

This free outdoor celebration offers modalities to honor loved ones and hands-on workshops to engage attendees in Mexican folk art.


Please help us to continue this tradition in the Driftless Community. 

Ofrenda or Altar 

A community Altar or Ofrenda will be constructed during the festival. Attendees are encouraged to bring a photograph or a favorite food of a loved one who has passed away to place on the Ofrenda. Other traditional items include candles, marigolds, paper mache skulls, and natural elements. 

This year the Ofrenda will be dedicated to the environmental activists who dedicated their lives to protecting nature in Mexico. We would like to honor: Samir Flores, Julián Carrillo, Otilia Martínez Cruz, Gregorio Chaparro Cruz, Luis Alvarez Flores, Isaac Herrera Avilés, Adán Vez Lira, Daniel Sotelo, Homero Gómez, Ismael Cruz, Jesús Miguel Jerónimo, Isaac Medrano, Juan Aquino González, Miguel Vázquez, Miguel Migueleño, Pablo Guzmán, Juan Zamarripa, María Agustín, Rodolfo Díaz, Maurilio Hernández, Reynaldo Bautista, Paulina Gómez, David Díaz Valdez, Tomás Martínez, José de Jesús Robles Cruz and María de Jesús Gómez Vega.

Mexican Folk Artist, Gabriela Marván, and a group of volunteers will share the meaning of the Ofrenda and guide participants in placing items on the alter. 

Community members are invited to participate in the Ofrenda during the October 8th celebration starting at 1:00 PM. Candles will be lit at 6:00 PM. 



or Marigold

Marigolds or Cempasúchil are ceremonial flowers for the Día de los Muertos celebration. The fragrance is said to lead souls back to their loved ones. Keewaydin Farms has planted around 5,000 giant marigolds for the 2nd Annual Celebration and volunteers are invited to help with the marigold harvest on Friday, October 7th from 1:30 PM to 6:30 PM. There will be a volunteer potluck following the harvest. Please bring a dish to pass. Keewaydin Farms will provide Zepeda tortillas, pulled pork, and salad. 


Calaveritas de Azúcar or Sugar Skulls

Calaveritas de azúcar or sugar skulls are a traditional way to commemorate a person you wish to honor for Día de los Muertos. A sugar skull represents a departed soul and spirits of the dead are welcomed back to their homes. The skulls are made from sugar and egg and placed in molds to form the shape of the calavera. Once the sugar hardens into shape, the skulls can be decorated with frosting. The community is invited to help make sugar skulls at the McIntosh Memorial Library in Viroqua on Saturday, October 1st from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM. There will be a workshop during the celebration on October 8th to decorate the calaveritas for the Ofrenda, by artist Ceci Tejeda. 

Corn Husk Dress Making & Catrina Presentation

Guest artist, Julieta Zavala will create one adult and one child’s Catrina style corn husk dress at the McIntosh Memorial Library in Viroqua before the festival. She will present her process during open studio times on Thursday, October 6th from 12:00 PM to 2:30 PM and Friday, October 7th from 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM. The completed dresses will be exhibited during the Catrina presentation on the evening of the celebration (Saturday, October 8th) at 6:00 PM. 

Julieta will have art for sale at the festival. 

Community Mural

Guest artist, Julian Correa, will lead participants in a painting tutorial and demonstration so that everyone can contribute to the creation of this community mural to raise awareness about protecting monarch butterfly habitat.

This mural is dedicated to Homero Gómez González and to the environmentalists who dedicated their lives to protecting the environment and the monarch butterfly habitat in Mexico. Mural painting will begin at 2:00 PM on October 8th and continue throughout the celebration. The mural boards will be exhibited at the McIntosh Memorial Library and the Viroqua Food Co-op who generously donated to the event.  


Corn Husk Flowers 

Guest Artist, Yesica Coria, will present a workshop on how to make corn husk cempasuchil (marigold) flowers during the October 8th celebration from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. The flowers will be created from corn grown on Keewaydin Farms and naturally dyed with turmeric by volunteers.  Attendees can place their flowers on the Ofrenda to honor a loved one. 

Yesica will have art for sale at the festival.


Aztec Dance Performance

Guest artist, Alejandra Jiménez Marván, will perform a traditional Aztec Dance at the October 8th celebration at 2:30 PM. During her performance, she will be wearing a dress specially created by guest designer Julieta Zavala (see corn husk dress making).   



In this workshop, Mexican Folk Artist, Andrea Muniz, will take you through the steps of drawing a design related to the Day of the Dead, setting up your frame, needle, and thread, and stitching a unique design of your choice. Andrea’s presentation will be from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM during the October 8th festival.  

Live Painting

Artist, Jaqui, will present live painting during the event where you can see some traditional techniques such as talalvera style. 

Jaqui will have art for sale at the festival.



Nixtamal Tortillas

Local food artisans Julian and Heidi Zepeda, owners of Tortilleria Zepeda, will be presenting a culinary demonstration during the October 8th celebration from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. They will show attendees the nixtamal process they use when making tortillas. Nixtamalization is a traditional process in Mexico whereby corn is treated with lime, cooked, and dried and ground to produce the flour used to make tortillas.

Zepeda will have tortillas for sale at the festival. 

Bilingual Storytime & Loteria Game

The Consulate of Mexico in Milwaukee will present a traditional Lotería game for the community during the October 8th celebration at 3:30 PM.

Following the Loteria game, the McIntosh Memorial Library will present a Bilingual Storytime and book giveaway.

All ages are welcome to join.  


Dave X will give a fireworks presentation to end the evening of the celebration at 7:00 PM. 

All Are Welcome


There is no cost for entry and workshops are free at this outdoor event. 

Two food vendors accept cash and serve all day. Artists accept cash for art purchases.

No credit transactions. No ATM available. No pets allowed. Camping available.           


Contact joy@driftlesscuriosity.org for camping. 


Thank You to the Wisconsin Arts Board 


This festival is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts and with support from Mexican Folk Art Collective, Driftless Curiosity, the Consulate of Mexico in Milwaukee and McIntosh Memorial Library.


 Contact joy@driftlesscuriosity.org for volunteer details.



Other Related Activities for Hispanic Heritage Month