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The Perrysburg Heights Community Association’s annual South of the Border Festival has changed its formula and name to the Perrysburg Mexican-American Festival and will run from noon to midnight Saturday.
The festival had been a two-day event, but the board of trustees reduced it to one day to cut costs. The board altered its name to be more inclusive to everyone in the Perrysburg area, and costs have changed as well. It used to cost $10 to attend the festival, $5 to park, plus the costs for refreshments and games. Now the festival is free, and it is only $2 to park.
“If you had a family of six coming, it would cost you $65 just to park and get through the door,” said board treasurer Jason Craig. “We want to bring people in and be inclusive to people in northwest Ohio and Perrysburg, and we hope free admission does that.”
Games and refreshments still cost. But if you buy tickets for those from the association and specify a charity, 20 percent of the price will be donated to that nonprofit.
The Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio voted unanimously last week to boycott the festival. The decision was made after the association’s founder, as well as the executive director, of the community center were forced out.
Member Ramon Perez said the action is meant to get the board’s attention. Officials said 150 signatures have been collected in Perrysburg supporting the boycott.
The festival had been the big fund-raiser for the Perrysburg Heights Community Association. Mr. Craig said he hopes they break even this year. By recently cutting the organization’s two full-time paid positions and replacing them with volunteers and interns, it saved the association $70,000.
Now it only costs about $50,000 a year to run the community center, and most of that money is made through rentals. The Toledo Sports and Social Club rents out the gym for basketball and volleyball leagues. That alone gives the center $15,000 to $20,000 a year. It costs $30 an hour for gym space.
“The gym is our gold. It always raises money,” Mr. Craig said.
In years past, the festival had generated from $25,000 to $30,000. But, recently, the event was not generating money. This year the board has spent nearly $2,000 in advertising and about $16,000 to put together the festival. The festival will include bouncy houses, a jalapeno-eating contest, singing, dancing, and games. Bands Tejano Sound Band, Hnos. Villegas, Grupo Dezeo, Plozivo, Midwest Home Grown Band, and Grupo Vicio will play at Perrysburg Heights Community Center at 12282 Jefferson St.
“Proceeds benefit our kids’ educational and programming needs at the Community Center,” said Steve Kramer, an association board member. “This festival honors the history of the Perrysburg Heights while we want to preserve the fine legacy and the success of the many Ohio's South of the Border festivals in the past.”