This weekend is Carnaval, one of the city’s biggest events of the year. On Saturday and Sunday, the festival will take over the streets of the Mission and celebrate its 40th anniversary. In honor of this year’s theme — Roots of Carnaval — Mission Local spoke to the person responsible for bringing Carnaval to San Francisco: Adela Chu. Chu was born and raised in Panama and came to San Francisco in the early 1970s. She is an artist of many trades — a dancer, international choreographer, actress and musician, and teacher. She now lives on Oahu in Hawaii.

We spoke to Chu on the phone while she was still in Hawaii, though she will visit San Francisco as the Grand Marshall of this year’s festival.

Chu remembers the first Carnaval started out with just 300 people, circling Precita Park at the foot of Bernal Hill; by the end, there were 1,300 people dancing in the park.

Listen to our interview to learn more about the beginnings of Carnaval, and what Chu is excited to see and hear at Carnaval this weekend.

Related:

Photos: Whirling, stepping and drumming through Carnaval

Photos: SF’s Carnaval parade dances through the Mission