BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – After recent publicity that the Mexican Fiesta was officially being canceled for 2018, a group of people in and around the village have put things back together and the festival will go on.
According to the Mexican Fiesta board secretary Maggie Guzman, the historical event will take place again in the Mexican Village on Avenue Q on Sept. 14 and 15th.
“As a board we’ve reached out through our partners in the Mexican community and the community as a whole, and we’ve come together to make sure this thing happens for 2018. People have really stepped up to take the reigns and make sure this tradition continues in our neighborhood,” she said Thursday evening from the village shelterhouse.
Guzman said food vendors will once again be part of the tradition as well as a band. Food will start being served at 4 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. on Saturday. The band will play from 8 p.m. to midnight.
The traditional crowning of the princess, ages 5-13, and the queen, ages 14-18, will also be taking place on Friday. Candidates can reach out to the board by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The princess and queen contest has it’s own Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/921689104636967/about/. There is also a Mexican Fiesta Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Fort-Madison-Mexican-Fiesta-258997857452131/.
Christina St. Clair is in charge of the traditional dancing and the crowning and said she hopes to have enough candidates this year to do Mexican and American winners. She said the contest is a dollar per vote and canisters will be put out at locations in town and the candidates with the most funds raised wins the crown. The Festival Queen gets the funds as a scholarship.
She said the grand entry dances are open to any child that wants to learn the traditions.
“It’s open to any child that wants to learn the dances. We try to keep the girls in the traditional dresses. We do have a few here, but parents usually just buy a dress. Boys are also welcome to participate,” she said. “I’m thrilled this is happening. The kids will be so happy.”
Practice will be held Sunday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the village.
Guzman said there will not be a carnival this year, but organizers are bringing in some more traditional games for the kids as part of a two-hour Kids’ Day afternoon on Saturday.
She said many people in the Mexican Village found out that Fiesta wasn’t taking place and energy built from there.
“We started meeting about three weeks ago and raised some funds. We still need more to make it happen, but we have a lot of people in the community that want to see it go on. We all started pulling together and worked hard and diligently to make sure this goes on,” Guzman said.
Scott Huffman, Jr., the president of the board, said he was happy that things could get back together. He said it was very close to not happening in 2018.
“It wasn’t going to until they put it out in the paper,” Huffman said Thursday. “Everyone got together and here you go. It’s gonna happen.”
Guzman said anyone who is interested in donating to help keep the Fiesta up and running and help offset some of the costs this year may contact the board via the email listing above.