Guymon Fiesta draws large crowds to downtown

The 2012 Guymon Fiesta had a resounding number of participants and attendees. The opening began with the National anthem, hands over hearts and hats came off heads as people stood. Following the Stars and Stripes, came the Mexican national anthem and the hands changed position over the heart and then the Guataman national anthem. The first Fiesta, held 15 years ago, was organized by Ben Vega and held at the No Man’s Land Regional Park and was sponsored by the City of Guymon and others. Seaboard, Hitch, and OPSU have also been sponsors of the event for all 15 years.“The fiesta did wonderful things in bridging the gap between the Hispanic newcomers in Guymon and those who had been here for a time,” says Melyn Johnson, one of the original committee members. “There is nothing like art and food that brings people together with a smile and I thought it was a great success. The city staff and council at that time were proud to be a part of the new event. The big deal about the Fiesta was the OPSU scholarship offered to the Fiesta King and Queen.”By the fifth year Soila Medina-Avalos, a City of Guymon employee, had been put in charge of the event. She had several excellent committee members, including Teri Mora and now she has the help of the Hispanic Advisory Board. Since the Alma began 11 years ago, they have participated in the event.Today at the Fiesta there are almost 10 local food vendors, usually groups that are using it as a fund raiser. Most of the food is homemade Mexican food and this delicious food is the reason many people attend. Medina had to turn down food vendor requests this year.“It’s a huge event for us,” says Medina. It makes a big impact in the Hispanic community, especially with the church groups and all who use it as their main fund raiser.”The Alma dancers are a part of the entertainment, but only a part. Through grants the City of Guymon obtains from the Oklahoma Arts Council this year there was also the Mariachi Real de Oro mariachi band. Dora the Explorer can even be spotted at the festival, as can Sponge Bob.There are also contests happening, piñatas, zumba dancers, karate demonstrations, and the crowning of the King and Queen. The King and Queen candidates must be a high school senior or current OPSU student, be planning to attend OPSU the following Fall semester, and have a minimum grade point average of 2.5. The must complete the application, have two letters of recommendation, and a typed personal states of not more than 300 words describing their career goals and why they would like to represent the Hispanic community. They are also asked to explain how awarding them the scholarship would benefit the community.Through the application and an interview with 4 judges, the Fiesta Royalty is chosen by their bilingual skills, personal interview, academic performance, writing ability, extracurricular activities, community involvement, academic recommendations, and long term benefits to the community if they are awarded the scholarship. The student is expected to demonstrate consistent leadership in the OPSU Hispanic student organization and campus activities.“This is one of the few scholarship processes that does touch on whether you will be here to benefit the community after your education,” remarks Johnson. “It isn’t something where being successful is going away and earning lots of money and accolades, but rather how you can help the community here in Texas County. I like this focus.”Sponsors for the event include the City of Guymon Convention and Tourism, Oklahoma Panhandle State University, CRI Feeders, City of Guymon, Farmers Gonzalez Agency, Seaboard, Cargill, Guymon Daily Herald, Guymon Tire and Auto, Tri-County Electric, Hitch Enterprises, EpicTouch, and Memorial Hospital of Texas County.Fiesta planner and organizer Soila Avalos Medina does most of the planning of the event with assistance by Teri Mora and Cathy Montelongo, both of Guymon. “I really appreciate those who have helped,” says the quiet, soft-spoken, and efficient Avalos. “The City crews from sanitation and streets are so appreciated. Lloyd Boles always does what he is asked and doesn’t complain, just smiles. Mayor Jim Norris has always been such a supporter for the event and that means a lot. But without Cathy and Teri, I don’t know where I would be,” she says with a smile. This year Mora had to be in Iowa for family business the week prior to the event and was unable to attend, although the Alma dancers still performed and she did help via text messages and phone calls.Another change that took place this year is that the event is typically held in the Texas County Activity Center, but with scheduling changes, this year Medina chose to hold the event at Fifth and Main Street.