Fiestas Are High in Fun But Low In Profits for the Communities

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Bull riding, dances, mechanical games—every summer people look forward to the next round of civic fiestas, which is the most traditional way to raise funds for community projects, but this year some of the fiestas around the canton of Nicoya operated at a loss, dashing the hopes of organizations to be able to carry out much needed projects.

The worst hit, reporting a loss of 2,674,214 colones ($5348), was the second series of fiestas held in Samara, which took place during Semana Santa (Easter Week) from March 21-25 to raise funds for repairing the EBAIS clinic.

On the first night of the fiestas, a transformer blew, so the bull riding couldn’t take place, ticket money had to be returned and costs related to the event still had to be paid. The second night competed with the the world championship soccer competition, keeping many glued to the TV instead.

But the remaining days were fun-filled.  “It’s very nice for the community,” noted Dr. Fulvio Paniagua Acuña, who organized the fiestas, but at the same time he also acknowledged, “look how difficult it is to do fiestas.” With this loss, which he covered out of his own pocket, he has decided that next year he will either change the dates of the fiestas or try a different activity to raise funds.

The end-of-the-year Samara fiestas held from December 27 to January 1 did report a profit of about 5 million colones ($10,000), according to Emilce Steller Ramirez, Treasurer of the Samara Progressive Association, but the amount should have been more.  

Steller said they have been in contact with a contractor from Liberia trying to resolve what appears to be fraud by one of the contractor’s associates. 

The associate requested and received from Steller a payment in cash, claiming that there was a problem at the bank with cashing the original payment made by check. 

With the money earned, Steller said they have bought new sound equipment for the Catholic church and the school and also bought uniforms, shoes and books for the two children of a poor family, who were previously not attending classes because they couldn’t afford these items. 

Another project is raising the roof of the community hall or installing fans to alleviate how stuffy it is inside the building.

A loss was also reported for the fiestas held in mid-December by the Integral Development Association of Caimital, to the tune of 700,000 colones ($1400), although they were able to recover about half of that amount by holding a rodeo fiesta May 4 and 5. 

Maria Teresa Salas Murillo, president of the association, said the small community, with a population of about 2000, has limited resources and lacks the support of business sponsorships, and with the advent of rainy season, cars have already gotten stuck in the mud on the community’s dirt roads. 

They would desperately like to put down gravel on the roads but lack the 700,000 colones necessary to pay for machinery. “We don’t have it. We don’t have the money,” she affirmed. 

Battling the heavy winds at the beginning of March, the fiestas held in Garza were rescheduled for March 9 and 10 and managed to close with a profit of 1,127,220 ($2254). 

The damages caused by the winds were many, especially affecting the food stands. 

According to treasurer Antonio Carrillo Carrillo, the fiesta’s commission felt obligated to charge a lower percentage than what was established to help the merchants that had paid for the right to sell their products. 

Now the commission must decide how best to use the funds raised. Carrillo noted that some of the most important community projects are improving the town’s EBAIS clinic, refilling and leveling the sports plaza and supporting the blue flag committee for Garza Beach.

In sharp contrast, Nosara’s two rounds of fiestas both reported profits. In January, they raised 12,506,292 colones ($25,012) and in April they gained about 3 million ($6000), according to Marcos Avila, president of the Nosara Integral Development Association (ADIN).

The highest profits, however, were earned by the Nicoya fiestas held January 30 to February 4. 

This year the Catholic parish took over the fiestas, with the ambitious goal of raising 20,000,000 colones ($40,000), whereas the previous year’s fiestas only earned 3 million ($6000), according to Luis Angel Conseca Rojas, president of the commission. 

They came close to the goal, with a profit of just over 17 million ($34,000), thanks to many sponsorships. 

The funds are being used to build a chapel for wakes on the north side of the church where dead bodies can be placed until they can be buried rather than keeping the bodies at home, said Conseca. 

Construction began in October, with assistance from IMAS (Mixed Institute of Social Assistance) but more funds are needed.