This year's Fiesta Mexicana features the unveiling of a new event: A Selena tribute singing competition, which challenges competitors to perform in the style of Selena Quintanilla-Perez, a Mexican-American pop star who has proven to be an idol for Latinos years after she was murdered in 1995.
The competition will take place each day of Fiesta, with two preliminary competition rounds on Aug. 4 and 5 and the final competition held on Aug. 6.
The idea for the competition came from the family that owns Mando's Mundo Entertainment, an entertainment company that organizes the musical performances and other entertainment at Fiesta Mexicana.
Cristina Gonzales Perry, daughter of Mandos Mundo's owner Armando "Mando" Gonzales, said her family has had similar singing competitions at other events, but never with a focus on Selena. She thinks a singing competition will be a way to honor Selena's legacy.
"Her fans keep growing, even though it's been many years since her death," Gonzales Perry said. "A singing competition is a nice way to highlight her music and the energy that she brings."
The city and Mandos Mundos Entertainment decided to float the idea on the Fiesta Mexicana Facebook page to see whether it got a positive reaction. A post from June 6 reads, "It has been 22 years since the tragic death of Selena. To honor her memory & music we are thinking of hosting a Selena tribute competition at this years (sic) Fiesta. What do you think?"
The post got 248 "Likes" and 51 "Loves," along with 55 comments. "That was super exciting, to get the feedback," Gonzales Perry said. "Right away a lot of people were commenting on how excited they were."
The outpouring of positive feedback sealed the deal, and the Selena Tribute Singing Competition became an official event at this year's Fiesta Mexicana.
Though Selena was murdered at age 23 by the president of her fan club, Gonzales Perry said Selena remains an important figure for many Mexican-American and Latino people, including herself.
"Growing up in the Pacific Northwest as a Mexican-American, (seeing Selena) was the first time I saw someone similar to me in mainstream media," Gonzales Perry said. "That was empowering, being able to see her navigate two different worlds and cultures. She crossed borders, and especially in a day and time like right now, that's a powerful message."
A Billboard.com article from 2015 names Selena as one of the most influential Latin artists of all time. "Selena made history, garnering Tejano music mainstream success it had never seen before — or since. She landed five No. 1 singles on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart and a Billboard 200 No. 1 with her studio LP, 'Dreaming of You,' and 20 years after her death remains a superstar," the article reads.
"Her talent was incredible. Nothing could hold her back," Gonzales Perry said. "She was not confined to one space or community. That's why we continue to celebrate her."
Gonzales Perry said the current political climate is one reason why the Selena Tribute Singing Competition feels timely. She said that recently she's witnessed communities being divided by hate. "Rather than separating and looking at all of the divisive rhetoric that's going on in some of the media, we want to focus on something positive," Gonzales Perry said. "It's a chance for people to celebrate together and get to know each other."
Though the deadline for applications to compete in the competition has passed, there will be plenty of opportunities for attendees of Fiesta Mexicana to celebrate Selena. Gonzales Perry said many of the other musical acts throughout the event will cover some Selena songs. And the singing competition will be interactive, Gonzales Perry said. Attendees are encouraged to dress up as Selena, and the audience will decide the winner on the final competition on Sunday.
The competition will be held on the Fiesta Mexicana stage. It will begin on Friday Aug. 4, lasting from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. On Saturday it will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. On Sunday the finals will be held from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m.