HIDALGO, RGV – Eager to move on from a nearly month-long battle for control of BorderFest, city leaders with the City of Hidalgo say it is “business as usual” for the popular annual event.

BorderFest coordinators say that despite all the legal wrangling, the brain trust for the annual festival has been in place from the start.

Shalimar Madrigal
Shalimar Madrigal

“We have all the confidence in the world. We have been working on it for a couple of months now, and it’s the same people doing all the work like the planning, the execution of it. It’s all the same team in place. Everyone knows how to do their job, and we know how to do it very well,” said Shalimar Madrigal, marketing and media director for the City of Hidalgo.

“We have a great team with wonderful sponsors and media partners who have stood by us throughout this whole ordeal. Everyone knows what’s expected, and everyone knows how to do their jobs. With the support of our community and our partners, we are going to put on an awesome festival.”

Some of the festival’s long-standing traditions will remain, but some dates have changed. Hidalgo will release the official itinerary for festival next week. BorderFest is scheduled to take place on March 4-6.

So far, the customary “abrazo” which has traditionally kicked off the festival will still take place with the mayors of Hidalgo and Reynosa meeting on the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 3.

The city will still hold its Mayors and Ambassadors event, but has changed it from a Saturday luncheon to a dinner event honoring Walk of Fame inductees on Thursday evening, March 3. BorderFest’s televised and illuminated parade has been moved from a Saturday to Friday evening at 6:30 p.m.

Among all the planned festivities still in place, Madrigal said the city lost its “Border Texan of the Year” event.

“That belongs to the Association. I don’t know what plans they have for continuing or not in light of recent events,” Madrigal said. “The events that are ours and hallmarked like the Ambassadors, the Abrazo, the Walk of Fame; we will continue that tradition in our community.

“We really hope everyone will come out and enjoy our festival with us March 4-6 at the State Farm Arena,” she said. “We apologize if there had been any confusion, but we are committed to making this festival the best it has ever been.”

Hidalgo officials held a press conference on Friday morning announcing that through the actions of a state district judge upholding an injunction against the city’s former planning entity, BorderFest Association, the city has won control to hold the festival as planned. The BorderFest Association, which claims it has rights to the name of the festival, wanted to hold the event in McAllen.

Hidalgo Mayor Martin Cepeda says the legal fight will likely continue once BorderFest concludes. In the meantime, the city has created a new BorderFest Commission so far comprised of three community members; Emmanuel Garcia, Carla Cantu and Priscilla Rosillo, with more members likely to be named soon.

“We need to continue as the united community that we are, and we need to move forward. For now, the decision was made by the judge, for Hidalgo to continue with BorderFest for now,” Cepeda said. “We are going to do it, but after the festival we have to stop and wait to see… because this is not over yet. We are going to have to sit down again and go through the court system, and another decision has to be made.”

Members of new BorderFest Commission said they will install new changes to bring in the schools and local churches so the whole community benefits.

Cantu said she has already received feedback from the community and said everyone is happy and excited for the recent ruling but once BorderFest is finished the new BorderFest Commission will regroup.

“A lot of people were in power for 30 or 40 years. We have to regroup and rethink and talk to the people to get new ideas,” Cantu said. “BorderFest needs to be renovated. It needs to have more attractions. We need to get together as a community because this new board is going to ask the community for new ideas. They are going to hear ideas from us. The community is going to be more involved.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows, from left to right, Hidalgo Mayor Martin Cepeda, and the City of Hidalgo’s hired attorneys, Rick Perez and Danny Rios.