Festival de la Familia, for 21 years the heart and soul of the Sacramento region's thriving Latino culture, has been canceled this spring.
The fiesta, which annually attracts about 20,000 area residents with roots in two dozen Latin American countries, has been temporarily derailed by the struggling economy, said Hector Bautista Sr., festival board president.
"We're taking a timeout," said Bautista, who hopes to bring back the festival stronger than ever in 2014. "This year we were unable to come up with the dollars we needed."
A number of big sponsors hit hard by the economy have had to cut back their contributions to the fiesta, Bautista said. The Bee was a founding sponsor of the event, and has continued to provide support to festival organizers.
The event, which has been held at Cal Expo in recent years, costs between $100,000 and $150,000 to put on, "depending upon the range of activities we've undertaken," said Bautista, a board member for more than a decade.
This year, the fiesta's seed money - a little more than $20,000 from last year's event - wasn't enough to cover the upfront expenses, Bautista said.
"It costs $50,000 just to get it started, including the rental deposit on the location, setting up equipment and hiring entertainment," he said.
Even if last-minute sponsors were to appear, "time is an issue," Bautista said. "The event is always held the last Sunday in April, and it would take a lot of volunteers to step up to the plate and take charge of developing this year's program."
The fiesta typically relies on about 500 volunteers, and to marshal them now would be extremely difficult, he said.
The fiesta has been a popular family event showcasing the cultures of Latin America, Bautista said. The Sacramento region is home to more than 447,074 Latinos, according to the U.S. census.
There are 367,617 Mexican descendants; 12,315 Salvadorans; 5,306 Guatemalans; 4,751 Nicaraguans; 18,146 Puerto Ricans; 2,911 Peruvians; 1,506 Argentinians; and 1,338 Colombians, according to the 2011 American Community Survey.
"We've been able to provide some general education with regard to the culture, foods, colors, arts, crafts, music and dances," Bautista said. "I think Sacramento as a whole is going to miss it. This is a very safe event where the whole family can come and enjoy."
"We're trying to regroup, recruiting board members to develop a stronger financial base. We've had some sponsors drop out, and some have reduced their contribution."
The fiesta will keep its website open, and build momentum for 2014, when, Bautista said, "we plan to return for our 22nd year with a program that will outshine previous years with children's activities, fantastic entertainment, authentic Latino foods, unique Latino cultural arts and crafts, numerous community outreach agencies and the presentation of our third scholarship award," he said.
"We offer a heartfelt 'thank you' to our sponsors, vendors, participants and volunteers," Bautista said.
For more information, call (916) 359-0594 or go to festivaldelafamilia.org.