50-year tradition picks up again after two years off due to pandemic
By Kernan Turner
Sister City Guanajuato, Mexico, sent its summer festival queen and five other representatives to Ashland to participate in Ashland Fourth of July celebrations, resuming a 50-year tradition derailed in 2020 and 2021 by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ashland Amigo Club members hosted the visitors and worked with city, university, religious and civic organizations to arrange a calendar of events while they were in town from June 28 through July 5.
Mayor Julie Akins, Southern Oregon University President Richard Baily, Temple Emek Shalom, and Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church each hosted breakfasts for the Sister City guests.
They rode antique cars in the Ashland Chamber’s 4th of July Parade, attended a Lions Club chicken barbecue and a Rotary Club winery luncheon, toured the city and its water reservoir and purification plant high in the hills above Lithia Park, sailed at Lake of the Woods, rafted down the Rogue River, participated in the Amigo Club’s annual Spanish-language poetry recital, and watched an Oregon Shakespeare Festival musical. They attended post-parade activities at the Lithia Park bandshell, where they were introduced to the public by Amigo Club founder Señora Chela Tapp-Kocks, received an Ashland City Band salute, sang the Mexican National Anthem, and addressed spectators on behalf of the City of Guanajuato.
Guanajuato Municipal Finance Director Stefani “Fanny” Marlene Martinez Armendariz led the delegation, representing Guanajuato Mayor (presidente municipal) Alejandro Navarro. With her were summer festival queen Cecilia Galindo and her mother, Monica Ayala Ortega, and grandmother, Carmelita Ortega (representing the Guanajuato Amigo Club), and two Sister City-designated ambassadors, Casandra Jimenez Verver y Vargas and Andrea Guardado Ramirez (the 2020-2021 summer festival queen).
In between activities, Amigo Club members opened their doors, providing meals and lodging for the Guanajuato guests. The hosts included Ashland Amigo Club treasurer Sean Van Ausdall and wife Catherine, Amigo Club secretary Lynn Lamoree and husband Tom, Amigo Club members Marian Telerski and John Morrison, and Amigo Club President Betzabe “Mina” Turner and husband Kernan.
Amigo Club’s Entre Amigos (Between Friends) column about Ashland ties to its sister city Guanajuato, Mexico, appears monthly. Longtime AP reporter and bureau chief Kernan Turner is an Ashland resident and Amigo Club member.