Two San Juan Bautista events were held the first weekend in May, but city officials have indicated it won’t happen again.
The double-booked weekend was May 5 and 6, with the Great San Juan Bautista Rib Cookoff and California Indian Market both days. Indian Market founder Elayne Reyna is arguing against allowing the Rib Cookoff on the same weekend while saying it caused a drop in business for her festival, while the Rib Cookoff organizer doesn’t see a problem holding both events over the same weekend.
Reyna spoke during the June 19 San Juan Bautista Council meeting where members had a consensus agreement to come back in July with an official resolution allowing the Indian Market that weekend, but disallowing the Rib Cookoff. The California Indian Market takes place in the San Juan School soccer lot, while the cookoff is along a closed off Third Street.
Reyna underscored how the Indian Market has always been the first weekend in May, with the Rib Cookoff dates fluctuating through the years.
“We know Jason. We like him,” Reyna said of Jason Williams, co-owner of Williams LTD, which runs the Rib Cookoff and other events such as car shows, BBQ gatherings, motorcycle rallies and street festivals.
She added, though: “He’s a commercial promoter from Reno.”
Williams was not able to speak at the San Juan meeting, but did share his thoughts with San Benito Live.
“The Cinco de Mayo date worked really well,” he said. “More importantly, it’s the only place on our calendar we can do it.”
He said he’s not trying to step on any toes.
“I firmly believe we can coexist,” he said.
Williams called the city’s approval a “loose decision” and planned to appeal it. He said someone mentioned July as an event date, but he clarified that Williams LTD’s prior July events had been arts and crafts shows, not a rib cookoff.
He said he’d like to come to an agreement on the matter.
“I’m hoping the city council, once they get the big picture, they understand where I’m coming from,” Williams said.
Reyna and others against allowing the Rib Cookoff on the same weekend as the California Indian Market bemoaned the loss in revenue, which Reyna attributed to crowds in town that aren’t Indian Market clientele and the lack of access for older or disabled residents.
She told San Benito Live most vendors lost 10-50 percent from their normal revenue on the weekend.
“I am receiving many emails from my vendors who come far and wide and also locally,” Reyna said. “And they, it’s very important that our Indian Market is always the first weekend of May because we are the beginning of the pow wow circuit, which they follow every weekend through July, and then they go home.”
One of Reyna’s big sticking points in arguing for one event over the weekend was the California Indian Market’s history here dating back 35 years and how it’s always been on the same weekend. Williams clarified the Rib Cookoff has been going on in San Juan for 13 years, while Williams LTD’s other event locally, the Fine Arts & Crafts Festival, has been running for 30 years.
Council members’ discussion largely sided with Reyna on the issue.
“I was surprised that there were two events on the same weekend,” Councilman Tony Boch said. “I don’t know why Mr. Williams has to have this on the fifth of May.”
Councilman Chris Martorano agreed with Boch.
“In my mind, you guys get top priority,” Martorano said to Reyna and supporters.
“The point is,” Mayor Jim West added in giving direction to the city manager, “We don’t want two events on the same weekend.”