CORPUS CHRISTI — No $50,000, no 2020 Fiesta de la Flor; that was the message from the Quintanilla family to the Visit Corpus Christi Board of Directors.
Paulette Kluge, the former head of Visit Corpus Christi, the city’s convention and visitor's bureau, resigned in part because of the deal she made to pay the Selena Foundation $50,000 from this year's Fiesta de la Flor.
That deal was back on the table Thursday, but while the board voted "yes", that doesn't necessarily guarantee the future of the event. That is up to the Selena Foundation and the Quintanilla Family.
While the CVB board didn't know about the deal its now former CEO made with the Quintanilla family. their decision to pay was about honoring commitments.
“It's not so much that they were insistent on receiving that money, it was an agreement that was made,” said Melody Nixon-Bice, Visit Corpus Christi Board Chair. “We wanted to make sure we took care of that responsibility.
Visit Corpus Christi estimates Fiesta de la Flor is worth tens of millions of tourism dollars to the city every year; but for next year, it's not yet money in the bank. As of now, the 2020 fiesta is far from guaranteed.
“We will set up a meeting with the Quintanilla Family, and they will let us know if they're actually interested in moving forward,” said Bice.
If the parties decide to move forward, the CVB wants to take on a lesser role.
“It's a very, very big undertaking,” said Bice. “We have had struggles with making sure we had enough staff, we had enough volunteers, just all the logistics that goes into it.”
The board’s idea is to find an outside company who’s interested in working with the Quintanilla family to stage and manage the Tejano legend and Coastal Bend native.
“That would really take the CVB out it financially, production-wise,” said Bice. “We would just be that facilitator to bring the two organizations together.”
KRIS 6 News called the Quintanilla's production company for reaction this afternoon but was told nobody was available.
At Thursday's meeting, the Visit Corpus Christi board also named Alyssa Barrera Mason the CVB's new Interim CEO, replacing Kluge. Barrera has been Executive Director of the Downtown Management District since February 2018, and before that was the City of Corpus Christi's first Business Liason. Mason will continue in her role with the DMD while serving as Interim CEO and is looking forward to the challenge of juggling the roles.
"I'm excited to help both organizations, maybe sacrificing a little bit of personal time during this period," said Mason. "I think we'll be able to keep both organizations running efficiently and improving performance while we do this transition."
Mason's first day at the CVB is expected to be next Monday, a search for a permanent CEO is expected to take four to six months.