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San Antonio's Fiesta Is Postponed, Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair Canceled

Fiesta in San Antonio is postponed following the confirmation of the first travel-related coronavirus case in San Antonio. The first Fiesta was held in 1891, and it’s only been canceled during World War I and World War II. 

The event will now be held from Nov. 5-15.

The Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair — which was scheduled to run through March 15 — has also been canceled. Vendors at Market Square in downtown San Antonio packed up their tents and tables Wednesday morning.

Amy Shaw, executive director of San Antonio’s Fiesta Commission, said the different date shouldn’t hurt the $340 million economic impact of Fiesta. More than 3 million people attend Fiesta annually, according to the commission.

"75% of the people who attend Fiesta events live within 50 miles of San Antonio, so that's the bulk of it,” Shaw said. “November weather is pretty sweet. In San Antonio, I think the average temperature is about 75 (degrees). And there are only four days of rain in November on average. So it might be pretty good."

A vendor in Market Square washes their equipment.
Credit Rob Martinez | Texas Public Radio.
A vendor in Market Square washes their equipment.

Jaime Humberto Mejia is the bandleader and songwriter for San Antonio-based band Volcán, which took a break over the winter and had about eight events lined up, including four official Fiesta events. 

“We’re always very excited for this season — it's our biggest, busiest season. So we were eager to get back on stage and enjoy being with our fans again,” he said. “In this medium, in this art form — especially for lively Latin music — there's a lot of dancing, a lot of big and close crowds. And we feed off of that energy.” 

The band won’t experience the economic impact of the postponement because they have advance deposits from most of the events, but that isn’t the case for everyone.  

“Our hearts do go out to our fellow musicians and other members of the community that are being affected by this economically in a heavier way,” he said. 

A vendor prepares to pack her tent at Market Square.
Credit Rob Martinez | Texas Public Radio.
A vendor prepares to pack her tent at Market Square.

Businesses, small vendors, nonprofits and the creative community of San Antonio-area artists and musicians rely on Fiesta for revenue and exposure.  

The new November date puts Fiesta in a busy holiday season, with Dia de los Muertos at the end of October and the Holiday River Walk lighting ceremony at the end of November. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he isn’t worried about conflicts. 

“Is San Antonio a town that can’t have more than one party at the same time? We have defied that reality for our entire existence,” he said. “In fact, I would tell you sometimes it's hard to figure out where the Fiesta begins and ends because we're in a constant state of community celebration. What we're saying is that we're going to take precautions necessary to protect your health.”

Credit Dominic Anthony / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg addressed the public outside of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission's offices.

Some epidemiologists have raised the possibility that COVID-19, like the flu, could subside over the summer but return in the winter.

"We will be hand in glove with Metro Health and the City of San Antonio like we have been for the last several weeks, and just keep watching it," Shaw said.

The city's first case is not from the federally quarantined evacuees at Lackland Air Force Base. The city’s declaration of apublic health emergency can be found here.

For more on coronavirus in San Antonio,visit TPR’s live blog.

Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony
Bri Kirkham can be reached at bri@tpr.org or on Twitter at @BriKirk