by: PHIL HAWKINS - Rosa Floyd of the local folk dance group Cosecha Mestiza dances with a scarf during a Sunday performance at Fiesta Mexicana. Festival organizers were encouraged by this weekend’s Fiesta Mexicana, saying the pieces are in place to grow the event year after year.

The Woodstock Chiropractic-sponsored Fiesta Mexicana attracted an estimated 12,000 people this weekend, according to Don Judson, executive director of the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce, which organized the event.

Attendance was up slightly from a disappointing 2012, but revenues were likely down because last year paid admission was $10 after 6 p.m. instead of $5 throughout the day, Judson LINDSAY KEEFER - Melissa Escalona is crowned the 2013 Fiesta Queen in a Friday night ceremony.

“We probably had less net revenue from the gate, but we had a lot of sponsors to help us out so that’s encouraging,” he said. “We only had a couple of sponsors last year.”

With most bills already paid, Judson expected the festival to at least break even this year, he said. He will know by the end of the month when gate and carnival receipts are tabulated.

Sponsorships increased sixfold from two to 12 this year, said Judson, declining to give dollar amounts.

These helped offset less-than-expected attendance numbers and paid for everything from entertainment to security to trash pickup and fence removal, Judson said.

While the chamber operated the event, several prominent members of the local Hispanic community were active in organizing it, including Anthony Veliz, who was in charge of marketing and promotions.

Veliz, a former Woodburn city councilor, said promotions this year included a strong push into Hispanic media, but also non-Hispanic businesses trying to attract Hispanic customers.

“Basically, the Hispanic market is the youngest and fastest-growing in Oregon and across the U.S.,” Veliz said. “It’s an emerging market and its buying power is growing. I think companies see the value in reaching out to the Hispanic community.”

Veliz, who owns Izo Public Relations & Marketing in Woodburn, said the event has changed over time, but is targeting a bigger audience.

“Vendors keep it authentic,” he said. “Just because we get a few corporate sponsors doesn’t mean that it’s going to go corporate.”

Other marketing changes included the use of social media, such as Facebook, and an enhanced website, Veliz said.

“We’re definitely moving in the direction of making this an inclusive event,” Veliz said. “That’s where the relationships are built. That’s how we build community.” by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Two boys test their basketball shooting skils at a mini hoop carnival game.

In future years, Hispanic activist and historian Miguel Salinas said he would like to see more credit given to the event’s founders — that is, the Woodburn Latin American Club.

While the festival featured certain aspects of the event’s 50-year history, including the selection of the first Fiesta queen Francisca Garcia as grand marshal of Saturday’s parade, Salinas said it omitted parts of the history, including some of the founders.

“My concern is that the founders are not recognized,” Salinas said. “I think they can do a lot better.”

Now in its third year under contract by the chamber, the event has branched out its marketing focus to attract a more family-oriented audience and highlight aspects of the Hispanic culture, Judson LINDSAY KEEFER - Hand-made crafts were like this one were on sale from many Mexican artisans.

“It’s a way to show off Woodburn,” Judson said. “We’re not going to go away from traditional Mexican food, entertainment and the soccer tournament. That’s what people are coming for.”

The chamber envisions the event becoming Woodburn’s answer to the St. Paul Rodeo or Mount Angel’s Oktoberfest — marketing to the state’s growing Hispanic population and attracting visitors from throughout the state, Judson said.

In future years, the chamber would like to involve more local businesses, particularly those located downtown and on Highway 99E, Judson said.

“My long-term vision is that we have a Fiesta week,” he said. “Tuesday would be music in the park with a downtown sidewalk sale. Wednesday would involve home improvement stores on 99E. Thursday would be VIP night where we would celebrate our sponsors. Every night, a different member gets involved.”

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine