‘La Feria’ poised for comeback: Juarez plans mass outdoor entertainment event in August

Border Report

Mayor says fair will welcome back patrons at 50% capacity, with masks and social distancing, pending state government approval

In this February 8, 2016 aerial photo, a giant sculpture known as La Equis or The X, casts its shadow near the site where Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The grounds are home of Juarez fair known by locals as La Feria. (AP file photo)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The Juarez City Council late Monday approved $270,000 to kick-start a popular mass entertainment event suspended throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Armando Cabada said the Feria Juarez 2021 will take place Aug. 12-29, pending approval by Chihuahua state health authorities. The fair usually attracts around 400,000 visitors over a two-week span, with many patrons coming from El Paso and other nearby Far West Texas and Southern New Mexico cities.

“It is not the first fair to take place (in Mexico) after the pandemic. Leon is hosting a fair and they’ve already had 1 million visitors. Tijuana and Guanajuato are planning their fairs. These are events taking place throughout the country in conditions less ideal than in Juarez,” Cabada said.

A couple watches family members ride a Ferris wheel at the Fiesta Juarez fair on October 2, 2016 in Juarez, Mexico. Juarez, formerly known as the “Murder Capital of Mexico,”, has rebounded, as violence has dropped in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The mayor said the fair would operate at 50% normal capacity with social distancing and the wearing of masks enforced by city and state officials. He said employees would be required to take COVID-19 tests on a regular basis and patrons are expected to use sanitizing gel before and after going on the rides. He called this a “bio-security protocol.”

“I analyzed the facts to make a decision so our families can go out again to a safe place to have affordable fun within the boundaries of what will be our new normality. We are making the proposal based on that,” Cabada said.

City Administrator Victor Ortega and Public Health Director Dafne Salazar claim 90% of all Juarez residents over 18 years of age have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. El Paso County, by comparison, has partially vaccinated 80.2% of its population 12 and over and fully vaccinated 68.8%.

Some Juarez council members expressed misgivings that the pandemic is under control. Others wanted time to review the proposal.

Councilman Oscar Gallegos noted the city’s 250 new infections last week are almost identical to a similar time in 2020, when the city was under COVID-19 threat condition red. “Only three states in Mexico are on green right now,” he said.

But others said it is important to boost the economy and return to normalcy. The council voted down by a slim 10-8 margin a proposal to postpone a decision for later. The council then voted 17-0, with one abstention, to go along with the mayor.

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