By Kitty Jo Nelson
Fiesta Days is here again!
It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 41 years since our family stood along Mt. Pinos Way to watch the very first Fiesta Days Parade.
As the Fiesta Days celebration begins its fifth decade this weekend, we need to remember that the ongoing success of 41 consecutive Fiesta Days is no happenstance, but the result of the concerted efforts of dedicated volunteers, community support, and thousands of attendees. ”
Since its inception in 1968, Fiesta Days has become an established annual event, which has great appeal to both young and old. Former residents are drawn back to visit with former schoolmates. Families plan their reunions around this date. Conversations about it are peppered with nostalgia.
The first Fiesta Days was more simplistic. There was a parade that literally came down Mt. Pinos Way, from west to east. (One year the parade was actually held in Lebec!) The first two Fiesta Days were outdoor dances held in the Frazier Park Market parking lot on Saturday evening. Many attendees wore clothes reflecting the pioneer area.
Through the years, more activities have been added. Traditional events now include live music throughout the weekend; the parade; the carnival; the Artisan Fair; the Pet Show; the VFW pancake breakfast; barbecues; the fishing derby; the horseshoe tournament; and the log-sawing contest. Just as significant to the event are the Fiesta Days Queen, Grand Marshall, and the Honorary Mayor.
Fiesta Days was established 41 years ago to raise money to improve medical services for the Frazier Mountain Communities. In July 1978, Mountain Memories Association and Hall Ambulance Service signed a contract for Hall to provide emergency medical services throughout the local area. During the 1998 Fiesta Days celebration, Mountain Memories and Hall Ambulance Service celebrated the 20th anniversary of contract negotiations.
Fiesta Days has succeeded as the only community event to survive for 41 years. The sustained support the event has garnered has made it possible for Mountain Memories to fund a number of community needs. Mountain Memories subsidized Hall Ambulance Service with a monthly stipend for many years to insure emergency medical service was available. Mountain Memories members also sold “subscriptions” to Hall Ambulance Service to help further finance emergency medical services for the Mountain Communities.
Since the ambulance service became self-sustaining, Mountain Memories has provided funding to purchase emergency equipment for all four local schools; provided turnout suits for the Cuddy Valley Volunteer Fire Department; purchased a “snow cat” for the South Kern Search and Rescue Unit; provided annual funding to Meals on Wheels; and purchased equipment for the Frazier Mountain Community Health Center and Hall Ambulance Service. Other projects over the years have included the Frazier Park street sign project; improved playground equipment in the park; local youth programs; funding for emergency supplies for Frazier Park, El Tejon, and Gorman Elementary Schools and Frazier Mountain High School; the El Tejon Swimming pool; Gorman School breakfast program; Frazier Park Library; Ridge Route Museum and Historical Society; and awards several scholarships to deserving Frazier Mountain High School graduates each spring.
It is impossible to even hypothesize on the number of volunteers and supporters who have contributed to this local “success” story. More medical services are available (ambulance, clinic, health fair, school nurse) than there were in 1968. A traditional community event was created and several generations have enjoyed the many fun-filled weekends provided by Fiesta Days.
Fiesta Days has been a continuing success story for more than four decades. Three generations of our family are anticipating participating in many of the activities of the 41st Fiesta Days celebration. In reality, some of us are visualizing the fantastic celebration Mountain Memories can expect when it reaches its 50th birthday in 2017. Who’d of thought in 1968 what a historical event Fiesta Days would turn out to be?
Congratulations to the many people who have contributed during the past 41 years! Enjoy Fiesta Days and add more “Mountain Memories” to those you have already collected through the years.