Día De San Juan Festival
The Fiesta del Día de San Juan is Menlo Park neighborhood's signature annual event held on June 24th. This date is the feast day of San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist), patron saint of water. The event is for the entire Tucson community.
It is believed on that day in 1540 the explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado prayed for rain on the banks of the Santa Cruz River, and it indeed rained. The date marked the beginning of the summer rains. Water from the river in our desert supported the continuous inhabitation of Tucson for over 4,000 years. When the river flowed freely during “the monsoon” season families gathered on the banks, beneath the cottonwood and mesquite trees to celebrate the day.
The Mercado San Agustin (MSA) properties have provided space for the Fiesta near the river for many years. On June 24, 2018 and 2019 we held the 21st and 22nd Fiesta at the MSA Annex with a cozy and intimate environment. Last year the Fiesta was cancelled due to COVID-19. The 2021 Fiesta will have to take on a decidedly different appearance because of the virus. However, a larger and more adaptive venue will become necessary in the future as the number of attendees has grown.
In 2019 City of Tucson Water chose to release reclaimed water into the river in conjunction with our event—a marriage of culture and science. We met with Tucson Water officials and reviewed hydrology reports. We partnered with the Ward 1 Council Office, Rio Nuevo, Gadsden/MSA, Caterpillar, Mission Garden, and Menlo Park Neighborhood Association. A permanent Fiesta location for Día De San Juan and community events should include access to electricity and water resources. Our event supports the conservation of land, water, and cultural heritage—reserving the historical Fiesta Grounds along the riverbank for such events is only natural.