BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Some unforeseen expenses incurred by the Fort Madison Mexican Fiesta committee spurred local groups and people into action this week.
The Fiesta committee reported last week that some rental expenses had gone up unexpectedly this year, but things were on schedule for the 100th annual event set for Sept. 16-18 in the Mexican Village on Avenue Q in Fort Madison.
The news generated several contributions including three $1,000 donations that came from Jason Lynk of King-Lynk Funeral Home, DuPont Corp. in Fort Madison and Lee County Supervisor Rich Harlow.
Committee member Jamie Mesecher said the extra money will come in handy as the committee works to put on a special centennial celebration.
“I love it and it makes my heart swell because I live for this,” Mesecher said. “I appreciate everyone that has stepped up. We still have some people who are donating.”
He said like any other event, costs continue to rise but he’s hoping for a great turnout and additional donations to help the festival committee carry over some funds for the next year.
“We’re trying to rebuild this festival. We want to get the 100th celebration in the books and then start working toward 101. We want this tradition to carry on,” he said. “I have a daughter who’s 15 and I want to see her compete for queen, or a grandaughter. This is a part of my life.”
The festival was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic and was almost shuttered in 2018 when it appeared funding wouldn’t be sufficient going forward.
The community stepped up in 2019 to keep the festival from disbanding with numerous private donations to keep it afloat.
The Fort Madison City Council also approved a $2,500 contribution to the festival this year, an increase from the past donations of $1,000.
Mesecher said the owners of the shelter house area are working with the festival committee.
“We’re glad they are working with us to make this happen,” he said.
Despite the infusion of donations to the festival, Mesecher said additional donations as well as volunteers are welcome and appreciated.
“Volunteers and donations are still needed as we try to revitalize this historic festival,” he said. “We’d like to get back to where we could give scholarships to the queens and possibly help with other events in our community, like groups are helping us,” he said.
John Hellige, plant manager at DuPont in Fort Madison issued a statement from the corporation Thursday afternoon.
“For nearly 85 years, the DuPont Fort Madison site and its employees have been a strong and active member of the greater Lee County community. We are especially proud of our longstanding relationship with the vibrant local Hispanic community, and we are pleased to make a $1,000 contribution to the Fiesta Committee to support their 100th Mexican Fiesta celebration next month.”
A public work day to help get the village ready for the festival is to be announced next week.