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Fiesta Oyster Bake Canceled in 2021 Due To COVID-19 For 2nd Year In A Row

Oyster Bake is one of the highest attended Fiesta events each year.
Oyster Bake/St. Mary's University
Oyster Bake is one of the highest attended Fiesta events each year.

Oysters at St. Mary’s University will go unshucked for a second year in a row due to COVID-19. The university’s alumni association announced Friday the mid-April Fiesta event is canceled and will not be rescheduled in 2021.

Oyster Bake started 105 years ago and draws up to 70,000 attendees during its two day run as one of the more than 100 Fiesta events that take place each year. Citing safety concerns during the pandemic, it’s the first major event to cancel in 2021 so far
Peter Hansen, St. Mary’s University’s Executive Director of Alumni Relations, said the association did not feel comfortable holding the party this year.

“As much as we’d love to do it we feel safety is our number one priority to people on our campus, our patrons, so we weren’t willing to risk people’s lives to come out here for our event,” Hansen said.

2020 saw all of Fiesta’s April events cancelled as San Antonio — and the nation endured — a ban on large events and gatherings reduced to a handful of people in order to curb the spread of the virus when it was still new.

The status of the rest of 2021’s Fiesta events is unknown as the Fiesta Commission weighs the ongoing impacts of the virus. The commission - which oversees the 11-day Fiesta celebration - brought in Dr. Martin Makary of Johns Hopkins Medicine as a consultant health expert to determine the safety of holding Fiesta events.

Hansen said the association also consulted with Makary and canceled for health and safety concerns.

Fiesta events, like Oyster Bake serve as fundraisers for various nonprofits throughout the city and are the largest fundraisers for those organizations.

“The tough part is that with Fiesta not at full strength, it puts a little financial hickey on the city of San Antonio because the amount of funds that go through with people traveling here, tourists, and just the money going through the system it’s a significant loss for everybody,” Hansen said.

Oyster Bake is indeed the largest fundraiser for the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association and raises between $500,000 and $700,000 for scholarships and university programs. Hansen said the association has an endowment of about $8 million that will allow its scholarships for 70 students annually to continue.

“We will return next year stronger and more focused on continuing a better and safer celebration,” said Joe L. Vela Jr., president of the association.

The next Oyster Bake will take place in 2022 from April 1-2.

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules