SAN ANTONIO – If Fiesta Medals are your thing, expect to see many repeats from 2020, as many organizations and nonprofits remain frugal during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oyster Bake, a fundraiser for scholarships for the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association, already pulled the plug on its event until April 1-2, 2022.
Peter Hansen, executive director of alumni relations, says there’s no way to keep the university’s 7,000 staff members and students safe with traditional crowds of 60,000 to 70,000 people.
“It’s a big loss for San Antonio. A lot of money comes through the different groups and the city itself. You don’t want to skip Fiestas like this, but we’re in different times for sure,” Hansen said.
Hansen said even if Fiesta 2021 were to be delayed until later in the year, Oyster Bake is not something the university’s organization can pull off this year.
“Fiesta is gonna be earlier next year,” he said. “It’s a financial risk to go into the fall and try to go again on April 1-2. It takes a lot of planning.”
A Fiesta Commission spokesperson said the board hired a health professional out of Johns Hopkins University to council their decision. The commission and city and county leaders are expected to announce their decision next week.
Even the tradition of medals is on hold, with many nonprofits, like Flambeau Parade, reusing the same medals from last year.
Linda Skop, with the Flambeau Parade, said the medals will have a pin on the ribbon with the year 2021. Less than 100 medals were sold last year because they arrived late due to the pandemic.
“It’s a unique medal that we think will still be very popular,” Skop said.
The organization depends on every investment to keep it going. It spends about $9,000 on medals and has a projected return of $20,000 on the sales.
Melissa Branch, parade chair for the Battle of the Flowers Association, said they’re reusing the medals from 2020 without any extra expenses on them.
“Being that we’re still up in the air and not knowing what’s going to happen, we decided to shelve that idea until we’re on firmer ground before we start spending money,” Branch said.
Branch said people will understand and support the cause.
Staff at Monarch Trophy Studio are busy changing ribbons on medals to read 2021, said Charles Drago, company president. He says many clients are keeping the medals from last year with changes to them, like a pin or a digital printing change to the medal itself.
A few organizations have decided to come out with a new design that represents this historic time.
Drago says to draw more business, they’re offering free drawings of medals and working with clients on pricing. He says another cancelation of Fiesta will mean a big hit to organizations that use the event as a fundraiser.
“I think everyone’s really hoping that we can do Fiesta in some capacity for the year and really be able to help them out because the amount of fundraising that goes into Fiesta in San Antonio is such a big thing,” Drago said.
The plan is to have the traditional weigh-in for Fiesta medals, with the hope that it encourages the city to support nonprofits.