SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A coronavirus cloud is hanging over preparations for Fiesta San Antonio next month, especially after the recent cancellation of South by Southwest in Austin.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg says Fiesta is still on…for now.
“This will be an ongoing conversation every day up until the very start of Fiesta,” Nirenberg said Monday.
Fiesta leaders met with local health officials Monday ahead of the 11-day festival, which is scheduled to kick off April 16 and continue through April 26.
Fiesta and SXSW attract different crowds. Fiesta organizers say most of those who attend SXSW come from outside the state of Texas and many of those are from other countries, while most Fiesta revelers live within 50 miles of San Antonio.
More than 100 Fiesta functions are scheduled, and dozens of local non-profit organizations depend on the events to raise money for the various projects they’re involved in. The St. Mary’s University Alumni Association raises money for scholarships, thanks to the Fiesta Oyster Bake. The Texas Cavaliers sponsor the Fiesta River Parade, which raises money for children’s charities. The Conservation Society of San Antonio depends on Night in Old San Antonio, NIOSA, for a large part of its budget and preservation-related projects.
“I’ll be working with my advisors, our budget chair and our treasurer,” said Patti Zaiontz, president of the Conservation Society of San Antonio. “We’ll just have to have a contingency plan and we’re working on one.”
The four-day event at La Villita attracts about 85,000 attendees and raises nearly $1 million for Conservation Society preservation projects and advocacy. Zaiontz says most of the work is done by volunteers, so that helps keep their budget low.
“I can’t imagine not having Fiesta, but the health and safety of our Fiesta-goers, our patrons and the citizens of San Antonio is most important, so we will work with whatever comes before us,” said Zaiontz. “Hopefully, everything goes on as usual.”
In the meantime, Zaiontz said, “Keep calm and wash your hands,” quoting the Centers for Disease Control slogan.
Could some Fiesta events continue without support from the city?
“It depends on the kinds of authority that we utilize for that in terms of limiting public gatherings,” said Nirenberg, but he added that it’s still too early to make that determination.
There is no confirmed case of coronavirus in the San Antonio community, except for evacuees who have been brought to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to be quarantined. More are on the way from the Grand Princess cruise ship, but only those who have no symptoms of COVID-19 will be coming here.