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Fate of Fiesta medals uncertain after San Antonio's largest party postponed

With Fiesta 2021's fate uncertain, medal producers are being cautious.

SAN ANTONIO — With the official start of Fiesta pushed back until June -- when Metro Health officials expect high levels of immunity to the coronavirus -- many producers of Fiesta medals remain cautious after last year when the event was delayed and ultimately canceled.

“It was an idea during the pandemic last year I thought we’d be looking back on this in March 2021,” Garret Heath, owner of SA Flavor said holding up a medal with the words ‘How the Grinch Stole Fiesta,’ emblazoned across it. The medal, which features the famous Christmas character wearing a flower crown and eating chicken on a stick, was meant as a look back on 2020 as the year without a Fiesta.

“So when a lot the events were being canceled and Fiesta was moved I thought ‘well, I’m gonna release this guy,’” Heath said.

Heath is scaling back his Fiesta medal production this year.

“2021, there might not be a whole lot of medals,” he said. “It might be kind of an interesting time for collectors. I know, I’m not making as many.”

Heath, a self-described ‘medal-head,’ runs his business from his back yard. He is only releasing two original designs for 2021.

“I don’t know what’s gonna come,” Heath said. “We’re gonna really, kind of, take a look and see how it evolves,”

“It’s not what it was last year – or two years ago,” said Charlie Draco, who runs Monarch Trophy Studio.

Monarch is using special printers to repurpose 2020 medals for this year. In some other cases, they are attaching charms or ribbons to the old medals with “2021” on the label.

Fiesta medals are a big part of Monarch’s business. They’ve had to shift their focus toward making masks and other items related to the pandemic, like personalized awards people can get for their nurses or health care providers.

“A trophy store is an award – an event-driven business; and there’s not a lot of events,” Draco said.

Heath says that, like Monarch, most medal producers have had to find creative ways to stay afloat.

“Everyone’s trying to find a way on how to bridge this gap,” Heath said, “because we know Fiesta’s gonna be back.”