Skip to content

Ventura County Day of the Dead Events at Museums, Gardens, Galleries!

October 25, 2018

With the popularity of films such as the Academy award wining film Coco (see trailer above), and The Book of Life (see trailer below), more and more people around the world have learned about Day of the Dead or, in Spanish, Dia (or Dias) de Los Muertos.

Dias de Los Muertos honors both life — and death. People visit cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and they build private altars or ofrendas with offerings to the departed with favorites such as photos and foods so the souls will hear the prayers of the living, they will know they are remembered, and they will be encouraged to visit. 

From 5:15 – 6 pm, the Museum of Ventura County offers a book signing by several local Chicano artists featured in the Ayer y Todavia catalog that includes artwork from the 2017 Ayer y Todavia exhibit plus there will be several rarely-seen works on loan from collectors. Admission is free; catalogs are $20.
From 6-9 pm in a free event, the Museum hosts the Mexican Consulate of Oxnard and Dia de los Muertos traditions will be celebrated with altars created by Club Uriangato de Guanajuato along with music by local composer and guitarist Javier San Roman. Catrina will wander the grounds and greet visitors, Guanajuato artist and master craftsman, Eduardo Serrano Moreno, will create a sawdust “mandala-like” art piece, and several current pageant winners from the different states in Mexico dressed in their states’ official costumes will be on display, courtesy of the Mexican Government.
From 7 to 9 p.m., for $5 for non-members, attend a Table Talk, a panel discussion on the influence immigrant communities have had in shaping the food culture of Southern California. The panel will include Ventura County Star Food Editor Lisa McKinnon, Alison Costa owner of Ventura Food Tours and Sarene Wallace from Edible Ojai and Ventura County Magazine. Serving as panel moderator will be nationally syndicated columnist and author Gustavo Arellano. The event will be held in the Museum’s Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Pavilion, 100 E. Main St., Ventura. Admission is free for members.

A few blocks down the street, at the site of the former Shepherd’s Gardens on the corner of Poli and Chestnut, now called Ventura Gift Garden, learn about the remarkable life of Theodosia Burr Shepherd when her daughter, Myrtle Shepherd Francis, returns from the dead on Dia de los Muertos, Nov. 1, 2018 to share with us stories about growing up in Ventura with her famous mother.

“In the field of your imagination are all possible flowers,”
notes Theodosia Burr Shepherd, the Flower Wizard of California.

Theodosia Burr Shepherd was known as “The Flower Wizard of California” and as the mother of the bulb and seed business of California. Theodosia actively encouraged women to grow seeds and bulbs to the extent that

it was said in Ventura County that the “making” of new flower varieties was as common as new cake recipes in other places.

In this special Dia de Los Muertos free event, hear stories about living in Ventura in the late 1800s and early 1900s and the development by Theodosia Burr Shepherd of Ventura’s flower seed business.

Join us at the the Ventura Gift Garden, the site of Theodosia’s famous “Shepherd’s Gardens” in Ventura ,on the corner of Poli and Chestnut Streets during one of two 30 minute living history performances: 1:30 and 6pm following a script written by local historian Suzanne Paquette Lawrence during a Ventura College creative writing class taught by her daughter (me! aka Gwendolyn Alley!)

Revered by many as “the female Luther Burbank,” Theodosia Burr Shepherd hybridized flowers in Ventura while Burbank created new vegetables and fruits in Santa Rosa. An article in the Pittsburgh Gazette proclaimed: “The Woman Wizard, Mrs. Theodosia Burr Shepherd, is to the world of flowers all that Luther Burbank is to the vegetable kingdom.”

Most Ventura County natives have no idea that Theodosia Burr Shepherd sent seeds and bulbs all over America and abroad, to England and Europe, even as far as Australia and Algiers. Her extraordinary gardens in Ventura were full of her exotic creations and drew many notable visitors: among them the famous seed man W. Atlee Burpee, suffragettes Julia Ward Howe, and Susan B. Anthony.

It was said that Theodosia Burr Shepherd’s gardens “put Ventura on the map.”

Theodosia birthed many new flowers and varieties including chrysanthemums, nasturtiums, poppies, geraniums, cosmos, calla lilies, cannas, dahlias, pansies, petunias, zinnias, fuchsias, azaleas, heliotrope, the heavenly blue morning glory, and the golden oriole rose, to name a few. My great grandmother Anna Paquette served as the midwife.

“In the love of flowers…[it is] as if the soul of the plant comes in touch with our soul. If the plant possesses the power to around such strong vibrations within us, is it possible the vibrations from us are received by the flower? We and the plant are the manifestations of the same force,” says Theodosia Burr Shepherd

While volunteers maintain the current gardens as a place to grow food for the community and the homeless and hungry, funding is still needed for water, fencing, irrigation and ongoing costs.

Performances are at 130pm and 6pm as the sun sets and the souls come out! It may be warm in the afternoon and at the evening performance  as the sun sets at 6pm and it is pitch black by 7pm so be prepared! Remember you can use your phone as a flashlight when it is dark. Please wear closed toed walking shoes. If you don’t want to sit on the ground during the presentation, please bring a chair.


Friday Nov 2 from 6-9pm during First Fridays, Bell Arts Factory (432 N. Ventura Ave, Ventura) will be celebrating Day of the Dead with art, face paining, altars, and more. Other activities are planned over the weekend.

Rising from the dead permanently during Dias de los Muertos is the Ventura Botanical Gardens which was razed by the Thomas Fire on December 4, 2017. The VBG says, “Nearly every plant was affected. In the past eleven months, we’ve removed the burned foliage, replaced most of the plants and repaired the walkways.” They also built a new visitor’s center, and they’ve instituted an admission fee of $7 for those who are not members (membership is $45 per year).

On Tuesdays, the Gardens are free for everyone. Monthly scheduled guided tours are also free. Additionally, many major holidays are free, with the exception of July 4. Hours are from 9am to 5pm with dogs welcome on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Sunday, Nov. 4, The Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum, 926 Railroad Ave., Santa Paula, will host the Mexican Consulate of Oxnard from 10 am – 2 pm in a community-wide celebration. Festivities include: Dia de los Muertos altars created by Club Uriangato de Guanajuato, Guanajuato Master craftsman Eduardo Serrano Moreno, who will create a sawdust “mandala-like” art piece, and several current pageant winners from the different states in Mexico will be dressed in their states’ official costumes. Performing will be Oxnard College’s Ballet Folklorico Mestizo, Aztec dancers, indigenous musical group TRIBU and local composer and guitarist Javier San Roman. Children can participate in traditional Day of the Dead crafts such as making Papel Picado and tissue paper flowers. There will also be a photo station with a Catrina, face painting and a screening of the animated film Coco. Admission is free to the public. For more information visit  or call 805-653-0323.

How will YOU be celebrating? Do you have an Altar up? How are you welcoming the souls of the departed today?

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Taxi Talk Without Tipping

Querus Abuttu

The "Q" Review

Jack Elliott's Santa Barbara Adventure

. . .tales from one man's wanderings, regional insight and history

The magical world of wines from Grocery Outlet

The best and the worst of Gross Out.

Stephen McConnell

A Daily Journal of Fruit, Structure, Varietal honesty, and Balance.

Sonoran Images

Photography by Steven Kessel


Diary of a Wine Student

Syrah Queen

Wine, Food & Travel Resource

The Paper Plane Journey

About my passion for wine and travel

Briscoe Bites

Booze, Baking, Big Bites and More!

Mythology Matters

Matters of Myth, and Why Myth Matters

Smith-Madrone News

Good Thoughts & Great Wine from Spring Mountain, Napa Valley

Fueled by Coffee

Lifestyle, food, parenting, DYI

Bottled Bliss

Day-colored wine, night-colored wine, wine with purple feet...

Do Bianchi

Negotiating the Epistemologic Implications of Oenophilia


Global wine culture

Elizabeth Gabay MW

Wine, Food and History: from the Rhone to Piedmont

Budget Trek Kashmir

Family run Company Specialist Trekking in Jammu & Kashmir, North Indian Himalayas

Oldfield's Wanderings

Objects in blog are closer than they appear

Memorable Moments

With Lists & Adventures That Keep Life Interesting

Vinos y Pasiones

Información acerca de bodegas, vinos, gastronomía y enoturismo.

Best Tanzania Travel Guides

from Kilimanjaro to the Serengeti and beyond


The Best Guide in Tanzania

Pull That Cork

Wine makes our life more fun.

Always Ravenous

Adventures in Food and Wine

Joy of Wine

"Wine cheereth God and man." -- Judges 9:13

Side Hustle Wino

If you're not having fun, you're not doing right.

Vineyard Son Alegre

Organic Wine And Olive Oil From Santanyí, Mallorca (Spain)

L.M. Archer

wordsmith | consumer, b2b + b2c

What's in that Bottle?

Better Living Through Better Wine!


My humble wine blog


When food and wine click!

The Flavor of Grace

Helene Kremer's The Flavor of Grace

The Swirling Dervish

Wine Stories, Food Pairings, and Life Adventures


Living La Vida Vino!

Dracaena Wines

Our Wines + Your Moments = Great Memories

Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Gretchen L. Kelly

Sonya Huber

books, essays, etc.

%d bloggers like this: