Community has celebrated at annual fiesta for 50 years

Roberto Avila performs during the fiesta at the Guadalupe Center in 2015.

For 50 years, the community has been coming together for an annual fiesta at the Guadalupe Center in Scottsbluff. The fiesta, complete with food and lots of fun, will return once again on Sept. 15.

The fiesta starts at 11 a.m. and concludes at 2 p.m. at the Guadalupe Center.

Father John Sorensen explained that the fiesta began as a fundraiser to help build the Guadalupe Center, located at 1200 E. Ninth St., and has been held every year since 1969. For a time, the event was a dinner, but transitioned to a fiesta.

“Fiestas are more fun than dinners, right?” Sorensen said, jokingly.

The Guadalupe Center is a community center, open to everyone in the community, Sorensen explained. It was built particularly to serve southeast Scottsbluff, but is available to the entire community. A variety of activities are held at the center, from English as a Second language classes to boxing events. The fiesta is one of its largest fundraisers.

Rachel Gonzales, one of the organizers of the event, said 10 to 12 people oversee the activities that are planned for the fiesta. At the event itself, she said, more than 40 people will volunteer to keep things running, from decorating to serving food.

Food is one of the highlights of the event, with homemade Mexican foods like enchiladas and tacos served. Preparing the food is a two- to three-day process.

“This is handmade from people, this is what they make in their home for their family,” Sorensen said, explaining that the process from soaking chilis to putting in spices is extensive. “It’s a big process, but with a longer process, it’s just like homemade bread versus store bought. There is something about the process that gives a richness to the flavors.”

The event is not only centered around traditional Mexican food, but entertainment.

“We will have some entertainment,” Gonzales said. “... We’ll have a DJ and the Los Guadalupanos dancers performing. And, hopefully, we’re going to have a couple of vocalists. Lots of times, people will volunteer to go up and just do a karaoke-type thing. It will be fun for everybody.”

Sorensen said his favorite activity during the fiesta is when he dons his charro, a traditional mariachi suit, with his big sombrero, and he “meets and greets, press the flesh, kiss babies and things like that. I really love to see the community come down.”

He says there are often people he sees at the fiesta, just that one time a year, to come enjoy the food and fun. Gonzales agreed, saying she loves to see the people and the interaction.

“It’s just a fun day,” she said.

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