People gathered from all over in Topeka’s Oakland neighborhood Saturday night to celebrate the final night of Fiesta Mexicana — the annual Our Lady of Guadeloupe Catholic Church fundraiser — with food, friends and entertainment.
While most things stayed the same, some new additions were made this year to the entertainment portion of Fiesta Mexicana.
First, in place of the annual jalapeño-eating contest, a youth talent show — sponsored by Alpha Media Topeka — took place Tuesday night with nine contestants, narrowed from a group of 30 who auditioned for the talent show. The top three contestants took home cash prizes anywhere from $300 to $500.
Of the multiple entertainment acts planned for the following nights, none was more notable than 2007 Latin Grammy award winning Tejano musician Chente Barrera.
Barrera was originally scheduled to close Fiesta entertainment Thursday night, but his performance and all fiesta activities were closed due to severe weather.
However, that didn’t stop the Grammy winner from eventually— giving his Fiesta performance.
“Since we got rained out, he was kind enough to stay over,” said Jorge Alvarez, chair of entertainment for Fiesta Mexicana. “He didn’t have to, but he did and he performed yesterday with the closing act.”
According to Alvarez, Barrera and Friday night’s closing act, Grupo Control, performed together and garnered a crowd of about 2,500 to 3,000 at the fiesta’s street stage.
The rain, hail and 40 mph winds may have put a stop to Berrera’s Thursday night performance and Fiesta activities, but according to Fiesta chairperson Alicia Chavez, this was not the first time Fiesta Mexicana has dealt with weather issues.
“We’ve had to close before,” Chavez said. “Last year, we had a rain delay. We still sold food and were able to move some entertainment inside. And two years ago, we had to close for a night due to wind. As a committee, we put together an inclement climate weather program that we go over at our daily meetings. What it ultimately came down to was that we had winds, hail and rain in a short amount of time. It was in everybody’s bests interests.”
According to Chavez, there’s no way to accurately calculate an exact number of fiesta-goers, but based on sales, the fiesta’s been seeing “several thousand” attendees a night.
“We’re doing well,” Chavez said. “We did have to shut down (Thursday), but (Friday) was great. We had great weather, entertainment, and the community came out and supported really well.”
Fiesta Mexicana officially closes Sunday morning with an 11 a.m. mass at Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church located at 201 N.E. Chandler.