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A Brief History of the Miss Fiesta San Antonio Tradition

April 12, 2021

If you are curious about how Miss Fiesta is crowned, check out this guide on the history of this San Antonio tradition.

We're still excitedly awaiting 2020's Fiesta celebration after it was postponed from last April to this upcoming November. Fiesta has been around for over one hundred years and is one of San Antonio's finest events.

Perhaps no one is more excited for this year's festivities than Calista Burns, our reigning Miss Fiesta of 2020-2021! Calista is a 19-year-old native of San Antonio and a proud young Latina woman with a strong background in STEM. 

The crowning of Miss Fiesta is one of the most beloved Fiesta traditions that, not unlike the swapping of Fiesta medals, has evolved over time. 

Read on to learn more about the history of Miss Fiesta and what is expected from our lovely contestants!

The Origins of Miss Fiesta of San Antonio

Back in 1948, the Fiesta Flambeau parade was established and, to this day, continues to dazzle the audience with brilliant light displays. In the beginning, brigades of four men apiece marched between floats and displays carrying large, lit torches. Today, the Boy Scouts take on that honor, carrying safety flares, instead!

San Antonio Fiesta Medal Tradition

With Fiesta Flambeau came its own line of Flambeau royalty, a fantastic addition to other crowning titles like the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, King Antonio, and Rey Feo. The queen of Flambeau was given the title, "Miss Fiesta." 

For nearly fifty years, the Miss Fiesta competition resembled a typical beauty pageant. It was hosted by the Miss Fiesta organization and focused primarily on looks, although contestants did go through a question-and-answer portion. Miss Fiesta San Antonio's past winners include beauties like Aleen Smith Freeman (1952), Petesie Guerra Lee (1954), and Gloria Garza (1970).

From Beauty Pageant to Community Service: The Evolution of Miss Fiesta

In the early 2000s, the competition saw a large shift in response to economic changes. What was once a massive production put together to reign the event became too costly. Plus, the judges, contestants, and audience wanted to see something a bit more modern than a traditional beauty pageant.

As a result, the role of Miss Fiesta began to evolve. In 2013, the Fiesta San Antonio Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission, took over the Miss Fiesta program. 

What Does Miss Fiesta Do?

The Fiesta San Antonio Foundation is responsible for a wide number of community outreach programs. They provide financial support and guidance that helps to create a safe and educational environment for all Fiesta goers. It was only natural that in taking responsibility for Miss Fiesta, they would bring the reigning queen under their guidance and allow her to lead a large scale community service project. 

The Foundation has five areas of focus:

  • Arts & Culture
  • History & Heritage
  • Safety
  • Health & Wellness
  • Education

During her reign, Miss Fiesta selects one of these areas to build her community service project around. For example, our current Miss Fiesta, Calista Burns, is focusing our project on STEM education for young girls within the San Antonio community. She is providing hands-on coding, engineering, programming, and robotics experiences. 

In addition to crafting and leading a community service project, Miss Fiesta participates in all Fiesta-related events and activities during her reign. Not only does that include the beloved Fiesta Flambeau parade, but it also includes awareness and fundraising events leading up to that year's Fiesta celebrations. 

What Makes a Good Miss Fiesta Contestant?

In order to apply, contestants must be between the ages of 18 and 23, attend a San Antonio college or university, and possess a strong background in community service. It is important that contestants have strong public speaking skills, gracefulness, and poise. Moral character is also a huge consideration when it comes to selecting Miss Fiesta contestants, and three letters of recommendation are required in the application. 

Winning the Crown

In the beginning, each contestant submits a rigorous application. In it, she includes a description of the community service project she would implement if she were to win. This includes not only the basics of the plan itself but also the ways in which she is qualified to run it and how she would execute it.

Next, a panel of judges conducts an interview with each contestant in order to determine a select group of finalists. A new panel of judges conducts a second round of interviews that occur during a number of public events. Here, each finalist presents her community service project proposal in front of a large audience. 

The winner is selected based on her project proposal and her ability to communicate it to an audience. She is also selected based on her personality, poise, and appearance. This last category retains some of the old traditions from the original beauty pageant-style competition of the 20th century. 

The title of Miss Fiesta is a great honor to receive! The work that comes with it will look great on any young woman's resume and the $2,500 scholarship can help with any educational expenses she may have. Plus, the community service project is a great way that she can give back to her community!

Fiesta San Antonio Traditions

Prepare for Fiesta In Style

Are you excited to participate in Fiesta this year? We, for one, can't wait to see the next Miss Fiesta earn her crown!

What better way to prepare for Fiesta than to start designing your Fiesta medal? Fiesta medals are great collector's items and for many Fiesta goers, adding to their Fiesta medal collection is a huge draw. 

At Fiesta Medal, we take great pride in making your vision come to life. Whether you have a specific design in mind or you're looking for a bit of design assistance from our artists, we're here to help. Start by requesting a quote today!

Fiesta Medal Blogger