BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The carnival is back, all the good “smells” are back…and Mexican Fiesta is back.
Starting Thursday night, the annual festival will run through Saturday night with the annual Queen and Princess pageant starting at 6 p.m. Friday night
Scott Huffman, the president of the Fiesta Committee, said this year the festival is bringing back the carnival which was absent from last year’s event due to budget constraints.
“Things went pretty good last year, we had a little money left and we put a couple thousand in this year thanks to some fundraisers from Sunnybrook and LULAC,” Huffman said.
“And we’re bringing the carnival back this year, so things went up and not down. This is a full-on carnival, too. There’s even some rides for the bigger kids.”
Last year the fiesta was mired in uncertainty when funding was stretched thin and the committee actually canceled the event, but it was brought back to life thanks in no small part, Huffman said, due to the generosity of the community.
“Our plan now is to grow from year to year. The only way it happened last year was local businesses that gave quite a bit of money. We were able to raise that money which helped tremendously. We didn’t pay for a carnival so that helped, but this year we’ve been able to build on that,” he said.
Another addition to this year’s show will be a live band on Thursday and then live music again on Friday and Saturday. Huffman said typically there is a disc jockey playing music, but this year the committee brought in Bluzillion out of Burlington to play Thursday night. Crooked Cactus, a well-known regional Latin Band will play on the weekend.
Huffman said the schedule will run Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday the fiesta will run until 11 a.m to 2 a.m..
The really big attraction – the food, will run late into the night as well. Huffman said the fiesta is up from five vendors last year to eight this year. And the carnival will be selling funnel cakes, hot dogs etc., as well.
“We’ll have the homemade tacos, enchiladas, steach and chicken tacos. It’s a pretty good variety, so everyone should be able to find something,” Huffman said
He said the committee has grown to 20 people who come to meetings every week, which he said was more than in past years.
Huffman took over as president of the committee last year, but has served on the Fiesta board for the past 10 years. He said he doesn’t remember ever having a second band.
“So things are moving in the right direction. We’re moving up. There’ll be a next year for sure. We have a decent amount left over still and the beer profit is what makes us go. That and the sponsors and volunteers make it happen.”