It's "Fiesta!" time again, when partygoers get to indulge during an evening of spirit sampling, fajita eating, frivolity and fun, all for a seriously good cause.
This year marks the 22nd annual Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River fundraiser, an event that has been going strong. It was created in 1998 in an area where daring to be different has always been the norm. Residents of this wide-open community-based casino town thought, "why not have an adult margarita party to raise money that will benefit kids in the process?"
Some might see it as an odd way to raise money, but when the amount collected justifies the means, and children have a safe place to play and grow, everybody wins. And that's the whole point.
The party has flourished over the years, raising much-needed funds and this year the event falls on Friday, July 12 (6 p.m.-9 p.m.) with the location set at the Aquarius Pavilion within the Aquarius Casino Resort.
"The Fiesta is such a great event and comes at such a critical time each year," said Autumn Boyle-Robinson, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River CEO. "Summers are when our attendance numbers shoot through the roof. This summer our Fort Mohave and Teen Center locations are so full we have waiting lists and Laughlin and Bullhead are pretty close.
"Almost 400 kids per day demands more staff, higher utilities, and a huge increase in supplies. Fiesta provides a good chunk of funding to get us through the summer," she added.
"Our title sponsors again this year are Western Arizona Regional Medical Center and Advanced Animal Care with all proceeds going to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River.”
Holding the event in July couldn't happen at a better time for the club when more area working families are in need of places for their children to be during the summer months.
"When people ask us why we are always raising money, we simply explain that there are still kids who need a safe place to go, and a positive mentor," she explained. "So if that means we need to find the funding to help more kids, that's what we do. In the end it is always all about the kids.
"We go through a lot of glue, a lot of glitter and a whole lot of air conditioning," she said.
"The 'Fiesta!' has grown to be such a fun tradition here in the Tri-state, and with the community support we receive, we're able to provide these kids with a safe place, activities, food and a positive environment," she added.
She also said the club values their continued relationship with the Aquarius, who hosts the event and all of its team members.
Actually, "Fiesta!" is more than a party. It is a competition that sees individuals and teams of bartenders from local casinos, restaurants, saloons and businesses try to create the best margaritas they can for prizes in two categories: "Best Blended Margarita" and "Best Margarita On the Rocks." There also is an award for "Best Booth" as an incentive for participants to create a festive atmosphere. And those in attendance get to sample all the various creations for the price of admission.
There is also a "People's Choice" award determined by those in attendance in the form of tips in each booth's "toke box." The team with the most tips wins the award with all funds automatically donated back to the Boys & Girls Club.
So far, 13 teams have signed up.
Last year's winners, who will be defending their titles this year, include Breakthrough Beverage/Sunrise Rotary, in the "Best Blended" and "People's Choice" categories; and the Aquarius for "Best Rocks."
"When it comes to the various concoctions, participants usually try to keep everyone surprised, however we encourage them to get crazy creative," Boyle-Robinson said.
The judges for this year's event include: Chuck Rogers from Dot Foods; Dr. Rebecca Henwood from Advanced Animal Care; Dan Oehler, attorney and Rotary Club member; Mike McGillivray, Noon Kiwanis member and lifetime supporter of the club; Carey Fearing of News West Publishing; and WARMC and Findlay Auto also will have representatives judging.
The decision of this judging panel can be tough due to the creative nature of the ingredients in the margaritas and original booth themes. In the past, there have been pineapple upside down cake margaritas; all manner of fruit and vegetable margaritas, and margaritas with jalapeños; Tootsie Roll margaritas; chocolate margaritas; milk margaritas, and many more.
The booths have been all over the board as to theme and design as well, with past winners going from hay bale country to fan and feathers Sin City. A favorite blast from the past was the upside-down margarita delivered directly to the mouth while reclining in a vintage barber chair.
More than margaritas
"We will have a 50/50 drawing for cash," Boyle-Robinson said. "We're also going to have a prize wheel and we do a small silent auction that we call a 'Vacation Station,' where vacation packages will be up for bid.
"And of course, we have the Booze Tower (filled with spirits) and prizes."
Tickets are $40 per person and include entry into the event, unlimited margarita tasting and a Mexican fajita buffet provided by the Aquarius.