The Miami Genesis Board: Terri Griego (Gila County Supreme Court),Rosemary Castenada (former Mayor of Miami), Susan Hansen(Business Owner), Stephanie Borunda (Miami Police Dept.) Christine Duarte(Director of Miami Sr. Center and Transit) and Lisa Remos(Business Owner). Photo by LCGross
Home » Living » Miami Genesis continues to support community through Miami Fiesta

Miami Genesis continues to support community through Miami Fiesta

Fiesta time is returning to Miami next month when the town will celebrate its heritage with a daylong festival returning for the second time since the pandemic.

The event celebrates Mexican culture’s influence and the community’s rich mining history. This year’s Fiesta will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17 at Bullion Plaza Park.

The annual festival is one of the town’s premier events. It is managed by Miami Genesis, a local community-based nonprofit composed of business owners, former council members, and community members spanning generations.

“Between the events and projects we do, we don’t stop – we always have something planned,” says Miami Genesis board chair and longtime Miami fixture Susan Hanson. “Before becoming a nonprofit, we were just a committee of volunteers trying to get things done.”

Miami Genesis became a nonprofit in 2012, and for the past decade-plus, the group has coordinated multiple annual events. They’ve also worked to accomplish larger, long-term urban renewal projects to improve the downtown area for Miami residents and visitors.

Hanson has been a local businesswoman for more than 20 years. She served for 10 years on Miami Town Council, stepping away from her council seat in December 2018.

While many Miami Genesis projects have been completed, the COVID shutdown and the vagaries of the local political landscape have hampered or even killed some of its more ambitious projects.

Genesis at work

Miami Genesis works toward restoration, economic development, and historic preservation in Miami. In recent years, the organization has taken on tasks such as sponsoring, managing and promoting events like Miami Fiesta, as well as the Miami Music, Art & Antique Fest, the Summer Music in the Park Concert Series, the Holiday Home Lighting Contest, Small Town Christmas, and renovation of the town’s vintage light pole decorations.

The organization has also spearheaded neighborhood cleanups and beautification/restoration projects and promoted the business district. It manages the Bullion Plaza Gymnasium and the Miami Kids Machine Club, created to help local kids find direction in their lives.

In 2016 Genesis finalized its Highway 60 Beautification project, utilizing grants from the Freeport McMoRan Corporation. The project consisted of fixing up the facades of 11 commercial buildings, installing custom benches along the road and at Bullion Plaza Museum, and adding welcome banners on light poles throughout the business district.

Two years later, in 2018, the group completed the Bullion Plaza Lighting Project, providing lampposts and 30-foot field lights at Bullion Plaza Park, opening the area to evening events. As a result of the project, electricity was also made available for public gatherings.

Miami Genesis also partners with Globe-Miami Habitat for Humanity in providing for residential facade beautification.

The one that got away

One of the biggest projects that never really made it off the ground was a plan to build Bloody Tanks River Walk, which would have created a linear park along the wash that parallels Sullivan Street.

The project would have created sidewalks on each side of the creek with access to businesses on Sullivan Street and Highway 60, allowing visitors and residents to circulate through the downtown area. It would also have cleared the creek bottom to create a clean, groomed nature walk.

“We pulled off everything but the River Walk, which is too bad because it would have been a true asset to the town,” Hanson says. “That one probably will never happen, especially nowadays. It would have been $1.5 million when it was developed, but I can’t imagine that happening now in the current financial climate.” 

More work on the horizon

There are always projects waiting in the wings. Currently, Genesis is working on installing plaques on historic buildings in downtown Miami and in empty spaces where historic buildings once stood. The group is also creating a walking map for visitors that will give a short history of each building, the bridges, and other historical features of the town.

The plaque project was the brainchild of Lisa Remos, a lifelong, third-generation Miami resident who owns My Mom’s House DZynes, on Gibson Street. Remos joined the board of Miami Genesis three years ago after finding the organization was not “an exclusive club.”

“I have a little business in Miami and never really paid attention to these things before,” she says. “But somebody’s got to step up to the plate, even if it’s just something little, like music in the park or Christmas or July 4.”

Remos also hopes to build more community participation to increase the organization’s effectiveness and bring more ideas on what can be done to improve the downtown feel.

“I’ve been here my whole life,” she says. “Miami never leaves you; once you’ve been here, you always belong.”

Miami Fiesta and Bullion Plaza

Bullion Plaza Director Tom Foster says that while many of the local nonprofits compete for the same dollars from grants, donors, and other available income streams, in the end they all work to serve the greater community.

“We all work together for the same end,” he says. “We work separately but all in all, we get it done.”

Board member Rosemary Castenada at last year’s Fiesta. Photo by LCGross

Throughout the event, the public is encouraged to tour the museum, which will feature updated exhibits, including new mineral displays and video presentations on local history, made possible through grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

The symbiotic relationship between the two nonprofits makes Miami Fiesta possible, with Bullion Plaza providing water, electricity, and other various necessities while Miami Genesis gives a donation to the museum and continues its work managing a portion of the facilities.

“Bullion Plaza has always been a part of that, and we’ve helped [Miami Genesis] as much as we can,” Foster says. “It’s pretty much whatever they need that we can accommodate, we do.”

He added that anyone who wants to donate anything—except for livestock or hungry lions, Foster quipped—is more than welcome, as local nonprofits are struggling in the wake of COVID.

“In these times, any donations to either of these groups is greatly appreciated and helpful,” he said. “It’s been a challenge.”

Hanson says that while much of the event has already been planned, she’s always looking for new vendors. There will even be parking available for vendors who would like to come in the night before Fiesta or want to stay after the end of the festival.

“We are always looking for vendors, and we would love some creativity,” she says. “If any vendors want to spend the night, they’re welcome. They can bring their RV, fifth wheel, or whatever and spend the night back there. It’s safe.”

Miami Genesis board members are Rosemary Castaneda, Terri Griego, Susan Hanson, Cyndi Castaneda, Lisa Remos, Christine Duarte, Stephanie Borunda, and Tricia Preston.  Miami Genesis fiscal partners include the Town of Miami, Bullion Plaza Museum, Gila County, United Fund, Freeport McMoRan Mining Corp., BHP Mining Corp., Capstone Mining Corp., and Resolution Mining Corp.


The cotton candy booth is a favorite at the Fiesta. Photo by LCGross

Miami Fiesta

Miami Fiesta will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Bullion Plaza Park.

There will be free live entertainment, including music, mariachis, and Ballet Folklorico. Beer, food, and gift booths will be on-site for purchase. The Miami Fiesta Chihuahua Race will again be the highlight event, with an entry fee of $5 in advance or $8 the day of the races.

Children will have a free all-day pass to the Kiddy Land rides, and in the evening, the Neto Vasquez Band will perform from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., with a DJ taking the reins for the remainder of the evening.

The Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum will be open throughout the day so visitors can delve into the history of the Copper Corridor.

Vendors interested in participating can call Susan Hanson at (602) 510-1809 or pick up applications at Miami Town Hall, 500 W. Sullivan St., Miami.





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