Fair ver­sus fair

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION - AR­TURO BO­JORQUEZ

It’s that time of the year when thou­sands of Val­ley res­i­dents flock south of the border to en­joy star-stud­ded en­ter­tain­ment at the an­nual Fi­es­tas del Sol.

Held at the Fair and Ex­po­si­tions Cen­ter, built more than 15 years ago, has be­come the home of Mex­i­cali’s fair.

The event at­tracts many peo­ple from the Im­pe­rial County and beyond due to its end­less amount of fea­tures.

Some have told me they go to the fair for the cru­cible gas­tro­nomic of­fer­ings, es­pe­cially the “gordi­tas de nata,” a mix­ture of corn dough with milk cream. Oth­ers at­tend the event to pur­chase items that are in­ex­is­tent in our lo­cal mar­ket.

The city of Mex­i­cali of­fers booths for lo­cal small com­pa­nies to pro­mote their prod­ucts and ser­vices.

A few go to wit­ness the cul­tural arts per­for­mances by lo­cal and re­gional artists. The ma­jor­ity, how­ever, visit Mex­i­cali’s fair for a sin­gle rea­son — con­certs.

Fi­es­tas del Sol’s lineup at Isla de las Estrel­las in­cluded groups like Reik, Banda Limón, Jumbo, CD9, In­va­sores de Nuevo León, Xi­mena Sar­iñana, Víc­ti­mas del Doc­tor Cere­bro, Ami­gos In­vis­i­bles, Kal­imba, Sil­ver­ado, Molo­tov, Mo­tel, DLD and In­to­ca­ble.

Those at­tend­ing the fair to see the artists per­form only pay ad­mis­sion to the fair. About a dozen other artists, from singers to bands, per­form at the Palenque, in which vis­i­tors must pay an ad­di­tional ad­mis­sion of up to $100.

Just last week, Calexico Chief of Po­lice Reg­gie Gómez and his of­fi­cers were busy for hours as­sist­ing trav­el­ers cross­ing into Mex­i­cali to at­tend the fair.

Now, I don’t mean to say Cal­i­for­nia Mid-Win­ter Fair & Fi­esta is worse or bet­ter than Mex­i­cali’s Fi­es­tas del Sol.

That would re­quire a costly sur­vey of res­i­dents from both sides of the border who had at­tended both events in re­cent years.

How­ever, re­gard­ing Face­book likes our lo­cal fair has less than 12,000 peo­ple fol­low­ing its so­cial me­dia site while the Mex­i­cali one has more than 145,000.

But, if we com­pare at­ten­dance, this year’s Fair & Fi­esta vis­i­tors rep­re­sented about half of the Val­ley’s pop­u­la­tion, about the same re­ported last year’s of the event in Mex­i­cali, which is around three or four times those vis­it­ing Im­pe­rial County’s fair.

Ad­di­tion­ally, if you see the time­lines on both so­cial me­dia pages, you can ob­serve a huge dif­fer­ence.

While our lo­cal fair dis­plays pri­mar­ily the sale of live­stock, our neigh­bors mostly show a va­ri­ety of what vis­i­tors can ex­pe­ri­ence — from food to car­ni­val rides, con­certs and much more.

The bot­tom line is cost. If you take your fam­ily to Mex­i­cali’s Fi­es­tas del Sol with about $100, you get more bang for your buck. That same quan­tity means a lot less fun here.

Re­gard­ing se­cu­rity, both events have re­ported dur­ing re­cent years very few in­ci­dents, so we can­not say this is a con­tribut­ing is­sue to re­frain or cause an in­crease of vis­i­tors.

At the same time, we must take into con­sid­er­a­tion sev­eral other things.

Our lo­cal car­ni­val rides are of a su­pe­rior qual­ity than those on the other side of the border while food stands are man­dated to fol­low very strict safety and health reg­u­la­tions.

So, in or­der to in­crease at­ten­dance, our fair board mem­bers should look for al­ter­na­tives.

I know funds are tight, but per­haps low­er­ing ticket prices would translate into higher lev­els of at­ten­dance.

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