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Chamber mulls over renewing Fiesta contract

What’s next for Fiesta Mexicana?

After three years of basically breaking even on Fiesta Mexicana, the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce is wrestling with its decision whether to continue its stewardship of the event.

The event, which has been a Woodburn tradition for 50 years, cost $93,488 to put on and was paid for by a mix of sponsorships, ticket sales and vendor fees, said Don Judson, executive director for the chamber. While ticket sales were down from $39,900 to $27,150 this year, sponsorships increased nearly seven-fold to $44,200, according to data released Monday by the chamber.

“It was profitable, but obviously there is a lot of risk involved,” Judson said. “That is offset when you have significant sponsorships and I would anticipate more sponsorships for next year.”

Chamber board members are having a special session Wednesday evening to discuss whether to continue the event, Judson said. Board members, who also are considering who will replace Judson when he retires as director at the end of the year, would vote on Fiesta at the October meeting, Judson said.

Potential changes could include a more compressed two-day schedule that would cost less. More money could be spent on higher quality acts, he said.

Fixed costs, including security, fencing and entertainment, could be paid for with sponsorship dollars. Gate and vendor fees, meanwhile, would cover smaller costs such as marketing the event, he said.

“The board is on the fence,” he said. “They need to feel comfortable with that basic premise of what I consider a pretty conservative concept.”

Regardless of the chamber’s role, the city would like to continue the event, said Scott Derickson, city administrator. Derickson also serves on the chamber board.

“I hope that the chamber will continue to sponsor the fiesta, but if the board decides not to continue with the fiesta, I think that’s fine,” Derickson said.

Derickson said the event has the ability to bring people together.

“It’s a natural fit for the community,” he said. “It’s a reflection of who we are, celebrating history in our community.”