Fiesta Carnival and Concession Contract Worth Millions of Dollars Up for Bid

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Vendors line up along 12th Street to sell food and Fiesta gear to parade-goers.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Vendors line up along 12th Street to sell food and Fiesta gear to parade-goers.

Fiesta is only weeks away, and the Fiesta San Antonio Commission already is working to make sure the vendor who supplies the thrilling rides and chilling raspas keep coming.

The Fiesta San Antonio Commission announced Thursday it is soliciting sealed proposals to manage and operate the Fiesta Carnival and parade route concessions during Fiesta 2020, 2021, and 2022, with option years for 2023 and 2024. The estimated value of the contract comes to over $1 million annually, or $3.3 million for the full three years, and likely $5.5 million total if the vendor exercises its option on the fourth and fifth years.

The Fiesta Carnival, one of many attractions and events during Fiesta, is the largest source of revenue for the commission overall, said Amy Shaw, executive director of the nonprofit Fiesta Commission, which coordinates Fiesta. The annual 11-day celebration honoring the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, Fiesta is April 18-28.

Annually situated in the Alamodome parking lot, the carnival offers free admission, and carnival-goers buy wristbands to access their favorite rides. The carnival operator also is responsible for licensing vendors who sell refreshments along the routes of the Battle of Flowers Parade on April 26 and Fiesta Flambeau on April 27.

For this year’s Fiesta, the Michigan-based family entertainment business Wade Shows is running the carnival and licensing parade vendors. In 2018, Wade Shows receipts totaled $1.13 million and the company paid the Fiesta Commission $575,000 per the contract guarantee.

Vendors who sell refreshments and souvenirs along the parade route paid Wade Shows $95,900 in 2018 for the right to sell refreshments and souvenirs either from a stationary booth or with a roving vendor badge. The company does not keep an account of how much money those vendors make selling at the two parades.

The Fiesta Commission puts the contract out for bid every five years. Wade Shows has won the contract in at least the past two rounds of bidding, Shaw said. And she expects Wade Shows to bid again for the next five-year contract. “They’ve done a really good job for us,” she said.

The Fiesta Commission has posted the request for proposals (RFP) in trade publications and directly notified businesses that operate carnivals in Texas. The new contract requires a guaranteed return of $600,000 to the Fiesta Commission.

The proposal submission deadline is noon on May 8 and requires a proposal security deposit of $5,000. The proposals will be evaluated by an RFP committee made up of W. Wendell Hall (chair), Byron LeFlore Jr., Jeanie Travis, Walter Serna, JoAnn Boone, Bruce Hicks, Ferne Burney, Vangie Flores, Steve Rosenaur, Frank Burney, John Jacks, and Shaw (ex-officio). They will evaluate proposals using a scoring sheet.

More information is available on the formal RFP on the vendors page of the Fiesta San Antonio website, and the Fiesta Commission will hold a Q&A session on April 4 and again after Fiesta.

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