BELEN – As many expected, the Hispano Chamber of Valencia County has canceled its annual fundraiser – the World’s Largest Matanza – due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The event has been held on the last Saturday of January for 20 years.
Julie Romero Benavidez, HCVC board president, said the Matanza has always been known for two things – tradition and supporting local students.
“Everyone knows the chamber promotes the Matanza as an event that preserves our traditions, but the other biggest objective is to raise as much money as we can to give it all away,” Benavidez said.
Every year, after the books close for the all-day, all-you-can-eat event, the chamber sets aside enough seed money to buy the 20-25 pigs it will need for the next year’s Matanza.
“The number of scholarships we can award is determined by what we can make on that one day,” she said.
For the class of 2020, the chamber was able to award 82 $500 scholarships.
“The good news for the last two years is the Matanza was so successful we could award a scholarship to everyone who applied,” Benavidez said. “We have an in-depth process of scoring all the applications, which we went through, but in the end, everyone won.”
When the scholarships were awarded last spring, the COVID-19 pandemic was going strong, so the HCVC board made the decision to hold back $20,000 for scholarships in 2021, knowing the Matanza would most likely need to be canceled.
“Because we aren’t having a Matanza, we are doing a scholarship drive this year,” she said.
There are a few different ways the community can support the scholarship drive, Benavidez said.
One way is to directly sponsor one or more scholarships. There are five sponsorship levels – from Bronze at $500, which is one scholarship, up to Premier at $10,000, which is 20 scholarships.
Businesses or individuals can sponsor a scholarship, she said, and all sponsors will get a “Piggy Plaque,” custom engraved by Sisneros Bros. in Belen.
“They make the award plaques every year for the different contest categories; I’m sure everyone has seen them, shaped like a pig,” she said. “They will engrave them with the sponsor name and number of scholarships they sponsored.
“If you don’t have an extra $500 laying around, we will be selling raffle tickets for $15 each.”
The raffle prizes are a “Dumpster” custom grill made and donated by AC Disposal Services with metal artwork by Sisneros Bros.; a cooking disco donated by Sisneros Bros., and four half pigs, donated by Kyzer Farms.
Benavidez said a “Dumpster” grill was raffled off at the 2020 Matanza and raised about $6,000, resulting in 12 scholarships alone.