May 14—Post-COVID attendance for the 25th annual Fiesta West Texas event was down about 20% this year, but organizers say the lower-than-normal turnout had more to do with poor weather conditions than COVID concerns.
Approximately 18,000 people attended this year's 3-day fiesta which was held May 7-10 at Ector County Coliseum, event organizer Richard Esparza. The popular event usually averages about 20,000 per year.
"We were down this year but we're very pleased with the turnout," Esparza said. "Going into the event we weren't sure how COVID would affect attendance.
"To be honest, I think what affected us more was the weather. We started seeing lightning, the wind picked up and rain clouds moved in Friday evening just when people normally start showing. I think that kept some people away."
Attendance picked up on Saturday and Sunday when sunny skies and warmer temperatures returned, Esparza said.
Although Garza did not disclose financial figures, he said this year's event was still profitable.
"We had a lot more vendors than usual," Esparza said. "A lot of them were from New Mexico and other states where COVID restrictions are still in place and large events are still prohibited."
Vendor Bobbea Vernell Cadena, co-owner of New Mexico-based All Nations Designs & More, said this was his first time in Odessa. Cadena said he is working several Texas events this year because New Mexico still has a ban on large events.
"We've been working the Texas Hill Country this spring," he said. "If it goes well in Texas, we may keep coming back."
This year's fiesta featured a variety of attractions, including Sea Lion shows inside the coliseum, pig races and ongoing traditional Mexican folk dance performances by various dance groups. Music concerts featured performances by several of the hottest Latin music bands, including Siggno and Los Rieleros Del Norte.
Esparza said organizers are already working on next year's fiesta. Next year's musical headliner is slated to be five-time Grammy Award winning group La Mafia, which plays Tejano and Regional Mexican-style music.