Friday, July 12, 2024

Zihuatanejo’s Sailfest hit fundraising gold in 2022 with home concert series

The premier fundraising event in Zihuatanejo each year for children is — hands-down — Sailfest, an annual event where sailors primarily from the United States and Canada arrive for a week of sailboat races, chili cookoffs, a run, walk, and bike event as well as a live auction, opening concert and gala dinner to raise money for the local Por Los Niños children’s charity.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, 2022 was a banner year for the event, with a total of 3.4 million pesos net and expenses running only at 6.4%, thanks to a remarkable increase in donations.

One reason for their success appears to have been the creation of what Sailfest called house concerts.

The concept was simple: local expats opened their homes to a select number of guests —  from 40 to 75 attendees. They also selected the band or group to perform and arranged all the food, mainly finger foods, expertly prepared by a chef. Local musicians donated their time and energy but made so much in tips that it often was better than a paying gig for them.

Attendees paid 700 pesos per person, which included a couple of drinks and the opportunity to buy raffle tickets for prizes donated by local merchants.

Violinist Gemma DeRagon
Violinist Gemma DeRagon performs at one of Sailfest’s house concerts.

Zihuatanejo Mayor Jorge Sánchez and his wife Lizette Tapia, huge supporters of Sailfest, even hosted the last house concert of this season last month. Their concert featured the musical duo Grace and Pierre, canapes, paella and dessert in their beautiful home.

Carol Romain, chairperson of Por Los Ninos says, “The house parties were started because we weren’t sure how many boats were going to come to Sailfest this year, with COVID at our heels. We are always looking for ways to bring more fun to [the event], as well as ways to generate more income for the students. It just seemed logical to take the next step and start offering house concerts. They have been very successful.”

In fact, they were so successful — selling out every show — that Por Los Niños was able to buy 28 laptops this year for Mexican students with high marks but very low income. “Our goal is to put as many students through university as possible,” she says. “Lack of funds should not be a reason not to attend.”

Because of the concerts’ popularity, “we will start them again in late October of this year and run them through April 2023,” says Romain.

Something to look forward to indeed as we sail into the new year ahead.

To find out more about Sailfest and Por Los Ninos, the charity it benefits, or how to open your home to a concert next year, visit the Por Los Niños website.

The writer divides her time between Canada and Zihuatanejo.

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