Fair versus fair
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.