Bulletin Staff Report Organizers of The Whole Enchilada Fiesta (TWEF) are calling it quits because of a lack of sponsorship to cover costs of putting on the fiesta, which began 35 years ago as a “block party for the city” on the former Downtown Mall, and grew into the one of the most popular fiestas in the country. A good part of that appeal was provided by Roberto Estrada, who each year supervised the making of the world’s largest flat enchilada, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Estrada had been making the 10-foot-wide enchilada for 34 years – except for 2012 stemming from state officials requiring an equipment upgrade – at his own expense in terms of the food supplies used. He also covered the expenses for the more recent addition of an enchilada-eating contest. Estrada recently announced he could no longer afford to make the mammoth enchilada and that did factor into the TWEF Board of Directors’ decision to “retire” the fiesta. In a news release issued Wednesday, May 6, TWEF board president Sonia Saldana said Estrada’s exit was one of several factors leading to the board’s action. “Throughout its history, the SEE TWEF, PAGE A13 fiesta has received recognition as one of the top 100 fiestas in the country and as one of the top three largest events in New Mexico, featuring artists such as Brooks and Dunn, Selena, Los Lobos, Josh Grider, Malo, Bri Bagwell and many more,” Saldana said in the release. “TWEF celebrated southern New Mexico’s food, fun, people and traditions through its rich cultural diversity. For the past 34 years, the three-day event attracted community members and business people within New Mexico, other states and different countries. It provided a quality experience for people of all ages through its involvement in the community and volunteer opportunities.” As a nonprofit organization, TWEF relied heavily on sponsorships, she said in the release, as well as many volunteers. “The intent of the fiesta has always been to raise funds and give back to the community,” the press release stated. “Therefore, after all financial commitments have been fulfilled and assets have been liquidated, all remaining funds will be dispersed to community nonprofit organizations.” Those interested in being granted a share of the proceeds should send a letter of interest to: The Whole Enchilada Fiesta Inc., P.O. Box 8248, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88006-8248. “The 2014 board of directors would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has ever been part of this great event,” the press release stated. “Without the hundreds of volunteers, countless hours of work and the financial backing of the many faithful sponsors throughout the years, this event would not have been possible. The board also thanked Estrada for “his commitment to the community and for retiring with his world record.” “It was over many hours of deliberation and sadness in our hearts that the decision was made,” Saldana said. Estrada’s world-record enchilada wasn’t originally the main event for TWEF. Started by community members as “a block party for the city,” TWEF began its run filling the former Downtown Mall with food and crafts vendors with musical entertainment provided on a stage in front of the former City Hall. When the Downtown Mall was closed to re-open Main Street, the event held the last weekend in September was moved to the Hadley Sports Complex, which required an admission fee for the first time. Nevertheless, TWEF continued to attract between 40,000 and 60,000 people each year. Upon hearing the news of the TWEF board’s decision, Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima said he would like to meet with the TWEF board to see if there is something the city could do to keep TWEF viable as a signature event for Las Cruces. In 2013, after a one-year hiatus to upgrade equipment, Roberto Estrada returned to make the world’s largest flat enchilada for The Whole Enchilada Fiesta. After making it again in 2014, Estrada announced he wouldn’t make it again.