Guanajuato Nights fundraiser resumes in 2023

On December 2, the Ashland Amigo Club again held the Guanajuato Nights event that raises funds for student scholarships. To help with SOU’s decades-long Amistad Program, the scholarships provide funds for students from SOU to study at the University of Guanajuato and vice versa. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s event. All photos are by Amigo Club member Jay Ach.

The event was held in SOU’s Rogue River Room, here shown before the event started (web mistress Karen for scale). Jay Tapp, chair of the event’s planning committee, came up with new procedures to raise funds. Instead of the silent auction used in past events, this year featured prize packages in a chance auction and a marketplace where attendees could purchase items at a fixed price. The marketplace is shown in the photo above. It included original acrylic and pastel art pieces created by Guanajuato artist Loreta Rangel Villaseñor, who designed and created the mural of Guanajuato on Calle Guanajuato in Ashland, as well as jewelry and other artisanal items from Mexico. Prize packages are at the other end of the tables.

A closeup of Loreta’s popular art work, most of which feature scenes from Guanajuato city. Amigo Club treasurer Sean Van Ausdell and his wife Catherine traveled to Guanajuato in October and acquired a large number of “Loretas” to be sold in the marketplace and to be included in three prize packages.

Attendees purchased tickets that they could place in the containers of prize packages they wished to win. Six “Loretas” were included in three prize packages. Another prize package was a “fiesta tree” created by Jay Ach to hold vintage ornaments purchased in Oaxaca, Mexico, and donated by Karen Smith, an Amigo Club member.

There were 22 prize packages in total. Here are examples of other packages that included donations from various businesses and non-profits in the Ashland region.

Before dinner, attendees had time to place their tickets in prize package boxes, purchase items at the marketplace, and socialize with other attendees. During this time, appetizers were served to the guests.

A glass of wine was included in the price of the event ticket. The dinner included enchiladas mineras (enchiladas for miners), roasted vegetables and chicken, rice and beans. The desert was chocolate flan accompanied by a chocolate port.

Musicians Komac Tapp and Arturo Ville  entertained attendees during the period before the program started. Mina Turner, Amigo Club president, served as MC for the program and also enjoyed singing with the musicians before the program started.

To start the program, the Amigo Club honored Kernan and Mina Turner for their 15 years of service to the club: Kernan for service as Finance Advisor and as author of the popular newspaper column, “Entre Amigos” (see the “News” menu item on this web site for an archive of Kernan’s columns); Mina for her stellar service as club president. Both have been essential to the club’s success. They are retiring from their positions but will continue to be active in the club. Amigo Club treasurer Sean Van Ausdell presented Kernan with his award, and Amigo Club vice-president/webmistress Karen Grove presented Mina with her award.

The program started with brief comments by Ashland Mayor Graham, SOU President Bailey, Deputy City Manager Sabrina Cotta, and Ashland High School student Sky Smith. Sky accompanied Señora Chela to Guanajuato in June as ambassador from our city to our beloved sister city of Guanajuato.

Karen Lucía López Villanueva and Joaquin Torres Hernández were important participants in the fundraiser event. These two students from the University of Guanajuato—both business majors with strong interests in music—were the recipients of the Amigo Club’s student scholarships to study at SOU in 2023. They studied business and music at SOU during the winter and spring terms, then obtained internships in Medford that enabled them to stay in Ashland until December. They both spoke about the value of their time in Ashland and then thrilled the audience with their violin-playing talents. All who met Karen and Joaquin were impressed with their intelligence, creativity, and warm personalities. They certainly embody the qualities the Amigo Club is looking for when the scholarships are distributed.

Three more students from Guanajuato have already been selected to receive scholarships ($4000/student) to study at SOU during the upcoming academic year.

Two other Guanajuatenses are studying in Ashland this year. Sebastián Rojas Romero Hicks and Nikolás Rojas Romero Hicks are grandsons of Faffie and Juan Carlos Romero Hicks—long-time supporters of the Amigo Club and the Guanajuato Nights fundraiser. Sebastián and Nikolás are both students in Ashland High School; they are here shown with Suzanne Haveman, who has been providing them housing during their Ashland stay.

The theme of the event was Guanajuato’s mining culture. Dr. Larry Buchanan, a mining geologist who studied mines in Guanajuato for his PhD, and who has discovered silver and gold mines around the world, spoke about how silver came to be concentrated in the rocks of Guanajuato. He is shown here with his wife Karen Gans. Both are long-time members and strong supporters of the Amigo Club.

The Amigo Club presented awards to people who have contributed in important ways to the success of the Amigo Club’s activities and the various components of the Ashland/Guanajuato sister city relationship.

During his 12 years as Ashland mayor, John Stromberg wholeheartedly supported the sister city relationship and went out of his way to assist with activities such as the visits of Guanajuatenses during July 4 and the visits of firemen and the mayor of Guanajuato during the Almeda fire.

During his time as SOU President, Dr. Roy Saigo worked hard to support and expand SOU’s Amistad Program, encouraging exchanges with SOU faculty and community organizations, and even traveling to Guanajuato to discuss programs with university administrators there.

As Executive Director of Ashland’s Chamber of Commerce, Sandra Slattery has been an enthusiastic ally of the Amigo Club’s sister-city mission, organizing events to welcome visiting Guanajuatenses, notably when 80 arrived in Ashland to celebrate our sister cities’ 50th anniversary in 2019.

Dennis Slattery was acting mayor during the visit of nearly 100 Ashlanders to Guanajuato in 2019, where he ably represented Ashland and made everyone proud to be involved.

Also receiving an award was Señora Berta Montalvo who unfortunately could not attend because she recently passed away. She was a true friend to Señora Chela during her many visits to Guanajuato.

To end the program, Jay Tapp, chair of the Guanajuato Nights planning committee, and the new Amigo Club President starting in January 2024, auctioned off three vacation packages that were donated by generous friends of the Amigo Club: a stay in Josie Wilson’s Monterey, CA, cottage; a stay in Rubén Nieto Rodríguez’ apartment in Guanajuato, and a stay in Karen Burstein’s hotel in Guanajuato. Karen also donated dinners in her Guanajuato restaurant.

Finally, Sebastián helped Jay draw the winning names for each of the 22 prize packages.

Señora Chela presented two of the awards and enjoyed chatting with attendees at the Guanajuato Nights event. Here she is with Arturo and new Amigo Club members Dax and Samantha.

Below are some more photos of event attendees.