Miss Fiesta: The Reinterpretation of a San Antonio Tradition

AlixzandraPenaIt’s less than a month away! Fiesta: the two-week-long party that San Antonio throws for itself. You can count on ACMB to be your resource for information on family-friendly Fiesta events and tips. We also pride ourselves on sharing “insider” information and doing what we can to make this big city we live in feel just a little bit smaller. To that end, I’m excited to tell you about San Antonio’s Miss Fiesta program.

Like the “big three,” King Antonio, the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, and El Rey Feo, Miss Fiesta is among the nine royalty who preside over Fiesta events and represent various organizations and San Antonio communities. The role of Miss Fiesta was established in 1949, in conjunction with the Fiesta Flambeau parade, making it one of the longest-running Fiesta traditions.[hr]

Historically, Miss Fiesta was a beauty queen, chosen through a traditional pageant competition conducted by the Miss Fiesta organization. In the early 2000s, the economic downturn, high cost of producing the event, and changes to the public’s appetite for beauty pageants put the more than 60-year Miss Fiesta tradition in jeopardy. To its credit, the Fiesta San Antonio Commission did not let the crown get packed off to the great trophy case in the sky. Instead, in 2013, the Fiesta San Antonio Foundation (the 501(c)(3) “arm” of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission) assumed responsibility for the program and reinterpreted the role in a decidedly modern way.

The Fiesta San Antonio Foundation supports programs, events, and organizations that create a safe, healthy, and educational Fiesta. Under its leadership, Miss Fiesta executes a community service project in one of the Foundation’s five program areas: Arts & Culture, History & Heritage, Safety, Health & Wellness, and Education.

IMG_0576To vie for the title, a local college woman must submit a written application that includes a description of the community service project she would execute. A panel of first-round judges conducts in-person interviews to select finalists, who present their project proposals to a panel of second-round judges at a public selection event. Finalists are scored on the quality of their project proposal, poise, appearance, presence, personality, and presentation skills. On March 5, Alixzandra Pena was selected from among seven finalists and crowned the 2015 Miss Fiesta San Antonio.

Alixandra’s project is “Promoting Higher Education to High School Students.” The project’s objective is to increase students’ educational attainment and long-term career goals by helping students prepare for, enroll in, and transition to college. She is a senior at the University of the Incarnate Word, majoring in financial economics.

Your truly with Victoria Flores, the first Miss Fiesta to reign in the new style (2013).
Yours truly with Victoria Flores, the first Miss Fiesta to reign in the new style (2013).

In my “other” life, I had the pleasure of working with the Fiesta San Antonio Foundation to implement the redesigned Miss Fiesta program. To my way of thinking, Miss Fiesta has transitioned from a “beauty queen” to a “first lady.” She is a poised, accomplished role model who uses her platform to pursue a charitable initiative.

I greatly admire the Fiesta San Antonio Commission and the Fiesta San Antonio Foundation’s commitment to preserving a long-standing tradition while finding a way to transition it to the modern day.

The crowning of Miss Fiesta in early March whets our collective appetite for the festivities to come. Be on the lookout for Miss Fiesta at the 2015 Fiesta events, and watch for the debut of her platform project at the end of this summer!




Katy is a San Antonio native who spent seven years on the East Coast. She is back home now, married to her match.com sweetheart, rearing her children Claudia (5) and Thomas (3), and practicing tax law.


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