Monday, April 9, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 128



Frontier Fiesta sees increased numbers

2001 event 'very successful' despite new location

By Romina Kim
Daily Cougar Staff

Organizers of this year's Frontier Fiesta saw an increase in the amount of people who attended the three-day event.

Campus Activities advisor Bruce Twenhafel said the crowd may have numbered between 12,000 and 15,000 people.

"Overall it went very well," said Mark Ciolli, chairman of Frontier Fiesta. "We are pleased with the turnout and with the number of people at the concerts."

Twenhafel added a better sense of the numbers will be available after the number of tickets sold, as well as food and beverage sales, have been calculated.

The advance publicity and the sponsors made for the success of Fiesta this year, he said.

"It was very successful," he said. "We were very pleased, especially after it was moved to the new site."

Walter Coreas/The Daily Cougar

The Houston Alumni Organization's Reunion Hall was one of many fronts constructed for Frontier Fiesta. The celebration drew a crowd of around 15,000 over the three-day period.

Fiesta was moved to parking lot 12A, west of Robertson Stadium, because the former site on Calhoun Road across the Newman Catholic Center is being prepared for the construction of a new recreation center.

The environment for Fiesta was also different, Ciolli said. The trees and the area which is usually used for tailgating parties during football games added ambiance to the festival.

The new location also provided the existing concrete paths, which made for an improved space, a less muddy event and less complaints, Twenhafel said.

"We had to make things work at the new location," Twenhafel said.

The fronts were also smaller compared to past Fiestas, he said. The surface of the parking lot did not allow for telephone poles to be installed in order to support the facades, so the groups had to accommodate their fronts to fit the 14-foot-high maximum.

The new height requirements also allowed for a shorter time to build the city, he said.

Most of the fronts followed the Western style, except for that of the College of Business Administration, which converted its front to resemble a pagoda, Twenhafel said.

"We had a phenomenal group of students who worked very hard and did an outstanding job," he said. 

The winners of the Joe Koeppel sweepstakes were Sigma Phi Epsilon and Phi Mu. The main Fiesta prize is given to a group for its participation, banner, acts, costumes and success at meeting deadlines.

The clean-up after Fiesta was also faster this year, Twenhafel said, because the weather did not interfere and the lights of the stadium allowed the student volunteers to work into the night.

More groups participated this year, he said. More variety shows were available in the carnival booths, as well as a diverse number of groups that participated in the cook-off.

"I was afraid that because of the nature of the event, lots of students would feel excluded if they were not part of a group," Ciolli said. "However, I was surprised to find students not affiliated (with any group) did not feel excluded."

The cook-offs allowed for community participation at Fiesta, Ciolli said. Half the teams that competed were not related to the University.

"The Rodeo cook-offs are good for us because they bring a crowd that would not normally come to UH," he said.

The Impact Cookers, a Katy team of women cooks, got the top honors by preparing the best brisket. The team also took home the $500 prize.

The Frontier Fiesta Association also gave out four $500 scholarships to incoming freshmen, which were awarded for academic achievement and community involvement.

MEChA, a student group which did not participate in the event, held a candlelight vigil March 31. The main argument of MEChA's members is that the name of the event celebrates a dark time in U.S. history. Ciolli said he had a conversation with the students concerning the changes they would like to see.

"Frontier Fiesta is about celebrating the University of Houston as a whole," he said. "It's a place of discovery, where cultures meet and form greater ones. (Fiesta) opened up to all students. We did not succeed 100 percent, but for the most part, the perception began to change as a school-wide tradition."

Twenhafel said the partners that participated in Fiesta, which included the Residence Halls Association, the Office of Special Events, the Houston Alumni Organization and the Division of Student Affairs, will meet at the end of this month to evaluate this year's event and plan for the one next year.

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