San Pedro’s Saca Chispas field to be closed in August; no Costa Maya festival this year
Sunday, May 15th, 2022
The primary public space often used for large events in the heart of San Pedro Town, affectionately known as Saca Chispas, will be closed during August for renovations. The announcement by the San Pedro Town Council raised eyebrows as this is the venue where the popular international Costa Maya Festival takes place on the island every August. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival has been canceled for the last two years, making this the third year without the event on the island.
Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez stated that the field’s electrical wiring needs to be updated to accommodate large events. He said that during events like market days, the current electrical network is not compatible with some electrical appliances often used. At times this causes power surges requiring circuit breakers to be reset. With the new re-wiring, such a problem will be solved.
Another addition will be the creation of storage facilities for chairs, tables, and tents used for events. Mayor Nuñez also said the field’s bathrooms would be renovated as well.
No Costa Maya Festival this year
Mayor Nuñez confirmed that there would be no Costa Maya Festival this year, but they are looking to host it in 2023. Currently, the San Pedro Town Council oversees the festival but was expecting the previous organizers to reach out to them regarding the popular event. According to Mayor Nuñez, no one reached out to them to plan the festival. The Mayor also indicated that his administration had the option to host the festival or do something else. “It was up to the council to decide if we were going to have a Costa Maya. We decided that Dia de San Pedro is supposed to be celebrated more than anything else because that is the day of San Pedro,” said Nuñez. He said the festival should be held next year with sufficient time to plan. The Dia de San Pedro on June 25th is expected to be bigger than ever, featuring famous Mexican artist Pedro Fernandez.
A peek at Costa Maya Festival
This festivity which started under the name Sea and Air Festival in 1991 and was organized then by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is considered the biggest summer activity in the country. Over the years, it was fine-tuned, changing its name to Costa Maya, and adding international flair to it. The festival is considered the biggest in the country and is usually held for four days, starting on the first Thursday in August. It includes a beauty pageant, where the Reina de la Costa Maya is selected. The international pageant consists of the participation of beauty ambassadors from Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Mexico. There are cultural presentations from local and international performers throughout the long-weekend festivity. There is an international night where a famous foreign band or singer offers a concert. Favorite artists participating in the festival include Laura Leon, Ilegales, Cumbia Kings, Cristian Castro, Pablo Montero, Grupo Ladron, Ricardo Montaner, Yvy Queen to Becky G, among others. The anticipated event also includes a good dose of humor with local and international comedians. All these items in the festival take place at the Saca Chispas field, and its broad audience includes government officials, ambassadors, and other dignitaries. The summer celebration also features the unique Belizean cuisine and a fair with mechanical rides.
The last Costa Maya occurred in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in 2020. That year Miss Costa Rica Lisbeth Valverde Brenes took the title of Reina de la Costa Maya. As expected, it was a memorable weekend with local and international performances. When the summer fest was over, fans were more than satisfied and could not wait for the festival the following year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 came into the picture, and it was canceled in 2020 and 2021. The wait was supposed to end in 2022. However, Costa Maya fans will now need to wait until 2023.
Some speculate that the new two-day Belize International Music and Food Festival recently announced by the Belize Tourism Board, to be held in San Pedro at the end of July this year, could be an annual event that would essentially replace the Costa Maya Festival.
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