#30 Days of Fiesta – Part 2

This is the second of a two-part post about #30 Days of Fiesta 2020 and how the Fiesta Board was able to create memorable virtual events for our community.

 As July approached, the Fiesta Board was off and running with our 2020 plans.  The main task was to create content for 30 full days from September 15 through October 15.  In addition to to that, we also had to decide which social mediums to use and how to introduce and promote each segment, create Facebook invitations to attract viewers, and make sure we were posting at the appropriate times based on our Facebook interactions.  Whew!

One of our many zoom meetings to prepare for #30daysofFiesta

In order to give our 30 days a good flow, we created a theme for each day of the week.  This made it easier to create content and helped us include our sponsors and get them actively involved.  Our themes were reflective of our Fiesta villages during a normal festival in Linn Park and made it feel more like we were actually having the event.

Our 30 Days of Fiesta daily themes and sponsors.

Our week began with Wellness Mondays presented by Jefferson County Department of Health, Children’s of Alabama, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.  Information about services and resources available to help keep you healthy and safe were provided.  For instance, videos and live information about car seat safety, Covid-19 information, proper way to wash your hands and other great facts were shared.

Taco Tuesdays, Tito’s and More, presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Mi Pueblo Supermarket, we showcased Latin cooking and cocktails with recipes, culinary demonstrations and mixology classes all through Facebook live.  Fiesta friend, Comedienne Joy was joined by Fiesta board member, Phil Sandoval during the cocktail demonstrations and they were a hoot to watch!  The restaurants selected for the cooking demonstrations were incredible.  The foods presented seriously made me want to lick my computer screen because the food looked so good!  (just kidding about the computer screen…)

Cultural Wednesdays, presented by Regions Bank showcased the people, history, culture and traditions of the Latin American countries.  It was the perfect way to show beautifully colorful videos about Latino countries and what they have to offer.  This was our way to share the cultural village with viewers.  For fun, there was also a trivia contest each Wednesday.

Throwback Thursdays, presented by Rubio Law Firm was my baby.  I say that because we used many of the photos I’ve taken of Fiesta since the first event 18 years ago.  I was able to go through so many of the photos and relive those years by creating a slideshow and share a little history behind them.  I loved doing this for Fiesta and I’m constantly amazed at the people I discover in my photos who I photographed and didn’t know then but who are now friends of mine!  We like to say that Fiesta has made a huge impact in our community and I think if you look through these videos you can see that.

Financial Fridays, presented by Wells Fargo provided “fiscal fitness” in the areas of establishing and building credit, home buying, savings, budgeting and more great tidbits.  The Financial Village was a wonderful addition to Fiesta last year thanks to board member, Phil Sandoval.  We held a separate event that brought together financial experts for the Hispanic community.  This year, Wells Fargo produced videos for each week and we also joined forces with HICA, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, and Bancorp South for two virtual seminars.  Very informative!

Celebration Saturdays, presented by Alabama Power Company helped us celebrate the best of Hispanic art, music, film, food, dance and more!  This is “the line” we use when we speak about Fiesta in a normal year.  And seeing the content we pulled together made it feel like a normal year being in Linn Park.  We had Zumba classes, dance classes by DJ Ivan Correa who is a mainstay at Fiesta each year, craft videos like how to make tissue paper flowers and so much more.

And finally, on Fiesta Family Sundays, presented by City of Birmingham and Bham Now, we observed the importance of family and community.  With the help of LaJefa radio station, we had a weekly talk show spot covering various topics.  We also reserved this time for our area non-profits that are always a part of Fiesta to have a voice.  The last two Sundays we promoted two films in Spanish at the Grand River Drive-in.  More on that in a minute…

See what I mean about content?!  Besides all of this, we also created something called “Fiesta in a Box.”  This box let our supporters have their own Fiesta in the safety of their homes.  We filled it full of fun items from our sponsors, information about our the Hispanic community, candy, craft instructions, fun little toys…and goodness!  The list of items was endless!  Several boxes contained a golden maraca or golden piñata which gave the box holder a special prize too!  The actual box was created by our board member, Cristina Almanza, who is a graphic artist.  She took such time and care to create something very unique to Hispanic culture. This keepsake box sold for $18 and we used it as a fundraiser for our Fiesta Scholarship Fund.

Our grand finale happened our last two Sundays when we partnered with Sidewalk Film Festival and Grand River Drive-in to show two movies in Spanish – Instructions Not Included and Disney’s Coco en español.  Several board members dressed in Day of the Dead costumes for Coco which made that last night of Fiesta all the more fun.  Of course, what’s a drive-in movie without popcorn or food?  We worked with Scott Cohen and Mi Pueblo Supermarket to create a wonderful taco menu for each movie night.  And popcorn with Valentina sauce was available for purchase.  If you haven’t tried Valentina sauce on your popcorn, you are missing out!  It gives it just the right amount of kick!

The best part of all this?  We were able to award $10,000 in Fiesta Scholarships this year to 8 deserving Hispanic students on our last day of #30 days of Fiesta!  After all, this is why Fiesta was created all those years ago.  My friend and fellow board member, Lui Fernandez, and I made the announcement during a Facebook live on October 15th.  It was an exhilarating feeling being able to do that and also reading the comments later…some from parents of the students who received awards.  It made my heart swell.  The check presentation to these students will be this November 2020 and I will share more about it later this month.

I’m so glad we did #30 days of Fiesta.  We learned a lot through the process and I think there are some elements that we added that we want to keep for the future.  This pandemic forced us to change how Fiesta functioned this year and helped us give the event a critical look.  It helped us see what we need to change in the future and what needs to remain the way it is.  I have loved this event since we began creating it over 18 years ago.  I never thought I would be a part of something this big for this long and I do cherish the moments, memories, craziness and friendships I’ve made along the way.  Here’s to 18 more wonderful years of celebrating Hispanic culture and heritage in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama!  Que Viva Fiesta!

Here are a few more photos from our very unusual year…

 

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