As a Reynosa native I have a special affection for BorderFest.
I heard about this festival in my early 20s, when I became fan of 80s rock and BorderFest had become a great place to enjoy must-see bands like Quiet Riot, Ratt, Men at Work, Survivor and many more of those bands that used to play at large arenas and even stadiums during their best years.
At that time, BorderFest was held at the small Memorial Park in Hidalgo. It was an odyssey to find parking and walking between mobs of people the used to be uncomfortable, but it was part of the charm that produces a festival of this kind.
Although, since it moved to the grounds of the State Farm Arena (formerly Dodge Arena), for me and many people I know the festival was never the same.
Gradually those legendary rock bands stopped coming and were replaced by tribute groups, which after a few years also stopped.
I remember the salutation (Abrazo de alcaldes) between the mayors of Hidalgo, Texas, and Reynosa, Tamaulipas, in the middle of the Hidalgo international bridge. Winter Texans walked along with lots of Gringo and Mexican authorities accompanied by the Hidalgo High School Marching Band – state champions in 1998 and 2000 – towards the main square of my city.
Curiously then, unknowingly, I walked beside my wife to whom I didn’t know at that time. She played saxophone in the band and was Drum Major in year 2000.
Don Jesus Cavazos, official photographer of the city of Reynosa for more than 40 years, proudly bragged having photographs of the Mayor’s “abrazo” showing former mayor of Hidalgo, John David Franz and more than half a dozen Reynosa mayors in all those years.
The news of a new headquarters for BorderFest was a shock to many residents of the city of Hidalgo, who feel this traditional RGV celebration is their very own festival.
In all honesty, few believe that the decision to move BorderFest to McAllen is driven by the lack of space in Hidalgo, as argued by the representatives of the festival, which made itself a non-profit organization in 2010.
It is well known why John David Franz, mayor of Hidalgo for 22 years, resigned in 2012.
Amid accusations about his place of residence and after the creation of an antagonistic politic group headed by his uncle, Rudy Franz, John David Franz, an attorney, hoped to maintain political influence through his allies. However his group lost the election and Martin Cepeda, candidate for the oposite political group, became mayor.
Later, in 2014, Joe Vera III resigned as manager of Hidalgo and was hired by the City of McAllen, among other things, precisely because of his key role in the organization of BorderFest.
Both Franz and Vera are key players in the BorderFest Association.
In the following days we will surely see a legal battle between the cities of McAllen and Hidalgo to keep the name BorderFest. So far, it appears that there might be two BorderFest events in March, as the legal fight is being resolved.
No too long ago, one of the most traditional Hidalgo-based events changed venue due to political differences that emerged in 2012: the Ramon Ayala’s Posada. The event was held in Pharr.
Although at the time he announced that the event would be held in different cities across the RGV, the truth is that the relationship with the authorities of Hidalgo improved and the Posada returned to its original home.
It will be difficult for the residents of Hidalgo to believe that the relocation of “their” festival is due to lack of space and will be harder to convince them that the members of the Association BorderFest are not managing the BorderFest as a personal project.
Having two BorderFest events doesn’t sound bad to me. I just hope at least one of them brings back the tradition of good classic rock.