STERLING – This year’s 61st Fiesta Parade could be part of an 8-day celebration.
Because of construction on the First Avenue Bridge last year, the parade, which starts in Sterling and ends in Rock Falls one year, then flips the next, was canceled.
In its place, event organizers put together a Taste of Fiesta celebration at the Grandon Civic Center.
“They didn’t want to just not have anything,” said Mary White, chairwoman of the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce’s Hispanic committee. “So they quickly just put together the taste.”
The celebration was enough of a success – it drew about 1,000 people, organizers said – that it’ll be used this year to kick of a week of events, ending Sept. 14 with the Fiesta Parade, which once again will cross the bridge.
“I think last year, the individuals that pulled it together just did a great job,” said Kim Ewoldsen, the chamber’s executive director. “It was that fact that for 60 years there had been this community celebration and we potentially weren’t going to have it.”
The fiesta activities, White said, traditionally have been on a weekend close to Sept. 16, the day Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain, so the chamber, which is organizing the events, decided to keep the parade that weekend.
After the taste, which will be Sept. 7 at Grandon, the chamber and the event organizers are hoping to have a week of events, which could possibly include a historical exhibit and a bilingual movie.
As part of the taste, which will include food and children’s events, there will be an opening ceremony and performances by local Latin-American bands and possibly some bands from Chicago.
The chamber’s marketing committee will spend the next few weeks contacting local businesses to set up sponsors and vendors for the taste and the parade.
“We’re also going to start looking for volunteers,” Ewoldsen said. “We’ll need lots of volunteers to help the day of the taste, as well as the day of the parade.”
With the setup and execution of the two major events, as well as possible weekday events, Ewoldsen said they may need about 100 volunteers.
Also on Sept. 14, the first Bridge the Community 5K/10K will be held. The day will start with a kids dash, then the 5K and 10K will be held prior to the Fiesta Parade. The run will be held to help benefit the riverfronts of both Sterling and Rock Falls.
Ewoldsen said September’s Fourth Friday event, which uses local artists to encourage people to visit downtown businesses, hopefully will feature several Hispanics artists, to further tie area events together.
For more information about float or vendor registration, sponsorships or volunteering, contact the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-625-2400.