Mesta Festa, the annual music, chili, beer and family fun party that started as a neighborhood fundraiser and quickly became a highlight of Oklahoma City autumn events, returns for its 17th year from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Perle Mesta Park.
Committee member Harry Meister said that this year's event includes activities coordinated by Science Museum Oklahoma and Wilson Elementary, including “Science Live”-style demonstrations and hands-on experiments.
“They'll work with the kids on individual experiments and help get them interested in science,” Meister said.
Mesta Festa began in 1996 to raise funds for capital improvements in the Mesta Park neighborhood, which was founded in 1902 and named after Perle Mesta, the celebrated Oklahoma City native and U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Funds collected through admission fees, event sponsorships and donations go to enhance the neighborhood's parks, streetlights, sidewalks and medians, said committee chair Cathi Jo Reznecheck in a prepared statement.
The chili cook-off begins at noon, with about 20 competitors bringing their favorite recipes to the event for judging. Beer sampling will include brews from Belle Isle Brewery, Huebert Brewing, Anthem Brewing, COOP Ale Works, Choc Beer and Bricktown Brewery, with Blue Note Lounge, Grandad's Bar, The Winking Lizard and other local pubs supplying additional beer. Food will be available for purchase from several area restaurants including the soon-to-open Pizza 23.
Members of the Thunder Girls will be on hand at the event, which includes music from several ACM@UCO acts, including Beth and Jess, La Folle, [Peach], Carousel Revolt and Kaitlin Butts. Local band Temporary Saints will headline with a 5 p.m. set.
Wristbands are $12, which allow attendees 21 and older to sample the local brews.
Meister, who has been with the festival since its inception, said that the annual event has become a point of pride for the neighborhood, attracting 1,000 attendees each year.
“We really feel like we've made an impact with the event, and we're really proud of it,” he said.