Pioneers host Fiestas Patrias event
GERING — The Western Nebraska Pioneers will host the inaugural Fiestas Patrias at Oregon Trail Park Stadium to bring the community together, with the ballpark as a destination spot.
Chuck Heeman and his wife Mayra started the event as a way to use the ballpark after the baseball season. “When Mayra and I operated a baseball team in Medford, Oregon, we also had the responsibility of operating the stadium year-round and bringing in events like Fiestas Patrias,” said Chuck Heeman. “The Pioneers are always looking for events to make use of this great facility during non-baseball months and this is an example of that.”
When they lived in Oregon, they put together a similar event, which was a huge success. Fiestas Patrias celebrates Mexico’s Independence Day, which is on Sept. 16 and offers fun events for the whole family.
“My wife, Mayra, is from Mexico and she knows that Fiestas Patrias is a big event to the Hispanic community,” Heeman said.
Fiestas Patrias will offer entertainment at the top of every hour, which includes dance troupes, musical acts and contests. There will also be food contests and prize giveaways.
“We’ll have jalapeno eating contests, taco eating contests, lots of prize giveaways and some more things we’re still developing,” he said.
The public can park where they normally would park for a Pioneers game, along Overland Trail Drive and beside the softball fields. The free event will be Saturday, Sept. 15, at Oregon Trail Park Stadium from 2 to 10 p.m.
Looking ahead to next season, Heeman said they are working on new events before the Pioneers’ season opener. A Cinco de Mayo festival has been discussed and the Gering Legion baseball program is exploring an expansion of their Memorial Day tournament.
“The experience we had in Medford showed us that once people know the stadium is there for more than just baseball, they’ll approach us to have events there.”