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City gearing up for 51st Fiesta celebration

Chamber-organized event to include live music, parade, children's activities, cultural traditions and more


by: FILE PHOTO - The 51st annual Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana, presented by Country Financial, will be Aug. 2-3 at Legion Park. One of the highlights of the annual events is its diverse and wide-ranging traditional and contemporary entertainment acts, such as the pictured dance by Rosa Floyd of local group Cosecha Mestiza.Thousands will converge on Woodburn to celebrate Latino culture in just a couple weeks, as Fiesta Mexicana, presented by Country Financial, kicks off its 51st year.

This will be the fourth year in a row that the two-day event at Legion Park is being planned by the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce, which took over Fiesta from the city in 2011.

Fiesta Mexicana has been an area tradition for five decades, but according to Woodburn Tourism Coordinator Ruby Wolfer, the event continues to grow and change each year.

“There’s so much new stuff this year,” she said. “Fiesta has gotten very big.”

Fiesta organizers are hoping to meet or exceed the estimated 12,000 attendees the event drew last year.

“It’s a huge event,” Wolfer said. “It’s the biggest event in Woodburn.”

The top draw for the Aug. 2-3 event, most likely, will be the live music and entertainment acts.

Saturday night will feature Michael Salgado, a Latin Grammy and Tejano award-winning artist known for his accordion (which he plays left-handed) and for introducing the classic sound of Norteño music to younger audiences.

Sunday night’s offering will feature a sound that will likely be familiar to many Fiesta-goers: La Mar-k De Terra Caliente.

This year marks Salgado’s first Fiesta appearance, but Wolfer said La Mar-k performed at the event a couple years ago.

“They brought in a big crowd,” she said.

A wide variety of other entertainment acts, many of them on the University of Oregon-sponsored family stage, will perform throughout the day Saturday and Sunday.

The diverse lineup includes Aztec dancers, the Águilas Ballet Folclórico Children’s Troupe, the Woodburn High School Mariachi Band, Woodburn Rocks, Salsando, the Chemeketa Salsa Dancers; Los Borikuas, Los Supremos, a Tejano band; Grupo Obzzecion, a Norteño band; La Potencía De Mexico, Grupo Ruta Libre and Billy and the Rockets.

One of the central, long-standing attractions of the Fiesta is the Saturday morning parade, which will start at 11 a.m. this year. Its colorful procession will begin at the Woodburn Aquatic Center and wind its way through to Park Avenue.

The parade’s grand marshals this year will be husband and wife Fred Bustamante and Anna Gomez Bustamante, whom Fiesta organizers said were selected for their dedication and commitment both to the event and the community as a whole.

Both are the children of migrant farm workers who settled in the area in the mid-1950s.

Anna Gomez Bustamante has the distinction of having been involved in the very first Fiesta celebration more than 50 years ago, when her family helped with the organizing and cooking. Gomez Bustamante even assisted with the crowning of the first Fiesta queen.

Another central component is the crowning of queen and first princess from the Fiesta Court, which was named in April and has participated in events throughout the spring and summer, including the St. Paul Rodeo and the upcoming Hubbard Hop Festival.

Another new feature this year will be a bilingual church service presented at 9 a.m. Sunday at Legion Park. Wolfer said that, in previous years, a Mass has been held at St. Luke Catholic Church, but this will be something different.

“It’s being done by the Woodburn Area Ministerial Association and will be a fully bilingual service,” she said. “It’s kind of a cool thing.”

The Fiesta’s vendors’ village will feature many traditional food offerings as well as artisans selling their wares, with the visiting artists from Guadalajara having become a particular favorite for many.

But perhaps the most-appreciated aspects of the festival are those aimed at children, of which there are many. Fiesta’s so-called “Kids’ Fun Zone” will include a taco eating contest, face painting, a dinosaur playground, bounce houses, crafts and, of course, piñatas.

Although most associate Fiesta with the plethora of activities that occur over the weekend, there are actually festivities planned throughout the preceding week.

Fiesta will kick things off on July 29, when they serve as the presenting sponsor of the Woodburn Summer Nights concert featuring Jessie Marquez and her Latin jazz quartet.

The following night, Silverton Health will host a VIP event at the Woodburn Health Center, the purpose of which, according to Wolfer, is to promote Fiesta to new audiences who might not be familiar with the tradition.

For more information about Fiesta, or to join the event’s roster of food vendors, call the chamber at 503-982-8221 or visit online at woodburnfiestamexicana.com.




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