Fiesta tradition continues
Frontier Fiesta kicks off today in the Robertson Stadium parking lot, serving up a healthy dose of variety shows, carnival games and rides, live music and Texas barbecue.
Although admission is free for students, the festival seeks to raise money to fund 10 scholarships for UH students while showcasing the campus’ culture and diversity.
Fiesta has been a UH tradition since 1940, but was discontinued in 1959. Since the event returned in 1992, fiesta has served as an opportunity for organizations and students display their talents with variety shows.
This year, students will have an opportunity to score free food and prizes during the event, taking place today through Saturday.
Darren Randle, chief of staff for Frontier Fiesta, said the biggest change this year is the increase in the number of UH students involved.
“In the past few years, it would be just IFC fraternities and Pan-Hellenic sororities that would have their variety shows,” Randle said. “This year we wanted every student organization — anybody who could get out here — to participate. We don’t want it to be a single-access thing like Rodeo Cookoff is. We want it to be a whole UH thing and a city of Houston thing. We even extended a bunch of the deadlines so more people could enter.”
The result is the first-time Fiesta participation of groups such as the UH chapter of UNICEF, the Houston Students of Ethiopia and Eretria, as well as the Cougar Computer Science Club.
What hasn’t changed is the festival’s location, which has been a hot-button issue in the past because of the number of parking spaces lost for a week each year.
Commuter students returning to campus from spring break on Monday arrived to find Lots 12A and 12B completely fenced off in preparation of the construction of “Fiesta City.” Both lots will remain closed until Sunday, and nearly half of Lot 12A will remain closed until April 1 to allow students enough time to tear down their “stores.”
Director of Parking and Transportation Robert Browand said in an e-mail that because of the lot closures, students with economy parking permits may park in any student commuter parking spaces not designated as resident student lots through March 31. He also referred students to the Parking and Transportation Services Web site and twitter.com/UH_traffic for detailed parking information.
President of the UH chapter of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, Lucas Evers, whose variety show will include parts of Back to the Future, Star Wars and someone called Darth Piper. Evers said his group has had a great time working on the event and that the benefits of Frontier Fiesta for students and the community far outweigh any negatives.
“As the University is trying to move to a (Flagship status), we need this event as a flagship for school pride, tradition and unity,” Evers said. “The master plan of the University is working to stray away from a commuter campus, and moving Fiesta further away from campus is counterintuitive.”
Although he admits as a resident advisor, parking is not a pressing concern of his personally, Randle agrees with Evers that the event is so important to UH that it is worth the relatively brief parking inconvenience. In fact, Randle would like to see Frontier Fiesta return to the size it was in its heyday in the 1940s.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing (Frontier Fiesta) as kind of a post-Rodeo event and getting 100,000 or 200,000 people out here again,” Randle said. ”We want to set high goals and I don’t think it’s impossible to do that.
“If we could get that much participation out here… I think that week of not having these parking spots, for the city of Houston and the University of Houston it would be really beneficial.”