A&F Assists with Frontier Fiesta

frontier-fiesta-vertical-banner.jpgSince 1939, Frontier Fiesta has been a mainstay at the University of Houston in spring. The three-day event includes cook-off competitions, musical performances, carnival booths and rides, and numerous fun events like paint by number and laser tag this year. 

Frontier Fiesta is one of many UH traditions on campus, and this specific tradition, much like commencement, gets assistance from multiple Division of Administration and Finance departments. 

Frontier Fiesta is a student-led festival headed by the Frontier Fiesta Association made up of volunteers and assistants from various student organizations. The money raised from Frontier Fiesta is used to award 10 scholarships that are offered to incoming first-year students. 

Behind the scenes, many Administration and Finance employees and departments are involved to ensure the fiesta is successful. And for some departments, the support starts months in advance. 

Wayne Brown, Director of Risk Management, said his department reviews all the contract agreements from the carnival rides contractors to ensure they have the correct insurance. 

Fire and Life Safety Director Chris McDonald said his department meets with Frontier Fiesta representatives months in advance and helps them determine where the event will be held. Once a location is found, the Frontier Fiesta Association draws up a map of the event, which Fire and Life Safety will review and approve. 

The approved location is then transformed into a functional town dubbed “Fiesta City.” McDonald said his department also reviews the tent permits of organizations that will have space in Fiesta City. 

Preparation ahead of the festival is also vital for the Office of Emergency Management, which is also involved in the early stages of the event with Fire and Life Safety. 

Once OEM has all the necessary information from the Frontier Fiesta Association, it starts working on the incident action plan.  

“The incident action plan will include things like the contact list, and it will include maps, it’ll tell us who is working when, who the incident commander is going to be for that event,” said Director of Emergency Management Ginger Walker. “And for a duration like Frontier Fiesta, we have different event commanders for each day.” 

Also included in the plan are traffic plans and the layout of Fiesta City. 

The traffic plans are also when Parking and Transportation Services employees get involved.  

“We actually do a few coordination meetings ahead of time just to go over exactly what areas they are going to take over on what dates. What signage they are going to put out around the parking lot prior to remind students,” said Allen Forde, Parking and Transportation Services Assistant Director. 

“And then, the day they take over the parking lot, if any cars need to be relocated, we take care of that.” 

Parking and Transportation also send out multiple communications to the campus community informing them of the temporary parking changes to the lots. 

With the location secured, the following steps include building Fiesta City. That’s a task that falls to Facilities/Construction Management.  

Facilities/Construction Management staff members assist students in building their tents while also setting up the stage. 

“It’s really kind of like a big puzzle erector set,” said Lead Carpenter Philip Beadle. 

Additionally, the department helps to power the festival. 

With the large number of attendees at Frontier Fiesta, safety is of the utmost importance to safety-related A&F departments like UHPD, Food Safety, Office of Emergency Management, and Risk Management. 

“We support Frontier Fiesta with approximately 35 officers. That’s including our command staff,” said UHPD Lt. Demarcus Williams. “We open up what’s called an incident command booth. So, that way, if anything happens, we’re already on site.” 

UHPD is not the only department in the command post. It is also occupied by many responding agencies including OEM and the Fire Marshall’s Office.

“It’s basically the hub of that coordination, communication collaboration for the event on the safety and security side,” said Walker. 

During the three-day event, UHPD can be seen walking on ATVs and golf carts patrolling Frontier Fiesta daily. Williams added that UHPD also meets with Frontier Fiesta representatives and helps vet the artists chosen to perform. 

Once at the fiesta, attendees will no doubt indulge in the many traditional carnival foods like funnel cakes and the sort. The university’s Dining Services oversees the sales of concessions and beverages for the event. 

Another important A&F department that assists Frontier Fiesta is the Food Safety team. 

Christina Martinez, a Food Safety Health Inspector, noted this department issues all the food-related permits to vendors and the barbecue cook-off competitors. 

“And then during the event, we stop by and ensure that they’re storing food and equipment properly and have working water,” said Martinez. 

Administration and Finance employees and departments are involved in Frontier Fiesta before, during, and after the festivities, and are a critical part of supporting this student event.