Who doesn’t love a list? So write one! Top five slices of pizza in your town, ten reasons disco will never die, the three secrets to happiness — go silly or go deep, just go list-y.
There is something of a satisfaction in making a list. I don’t know what it is. But it’s there. This season is Fiesta in San Antonio. It’s a great season for making a list in San Antonio. There was a just a short list on Channel 4 on the television for the Best Of Fiesta in San Antonio, listing the best four events of Fiesta. I’m making my own short list of the best five events of Fiesta, according to ME.
The first best event, I think, is the Battle of Flowers Parade. This is a spectacular parade held on the Friday of Fiesta down Broadway. Nearly 300,000 people turn out for this parade, the largest crowd for any Fiesta event and therefore it is the top of my list. The Fiesta Queen and her Duchesses ride on floats in this parade and the big roar of the crowd is always, “Show us your shoes!” The Queen and her Duchesses oblige by showing what they are wearing on their feet, usually tennis shoes or cowboy boots under their immensely heavy and decorated gowns and trains, that weigh upwards of 50 or more pounds. They gowns and trains are spectacular and on display on the floats and all centered around a particular theme. They take up to a year to complete. The people on the floats and the people along the parade route toss carnations at each other, hence the name Battle of Flowers Parade. It commemorates the Battle of San Jacinto in the War for Texas Independence. The is always a Grand Marshall as well, usually someone from Hollywood. There are marching bands from the local high schools, as well as mariachi bands. The local Irish dancing school marches and performs as well as cheerleading schools and gymnastic schools. The parade lasts about three hours from noon from 3 p.m. Most businesses give their workers the day off to go to the parade and the schools close for the day for families to go to the parade. The entire city shuts down for the parade.
The second event on my list is NIOSA, or Night In Old San Antonio. This is a five night extravaganza held in the old village of La Villita. The little village becomes home to food booths and other vendors and people mill about and enjoy the mariachi bands and the company of others and the many food booths and the atmosphere of a night in old San Antonio. Sometimes nearly 100,000 crowd into the small space in a single evening. It gets so crowded that you can barely move, the event is so popular. Some of the food booths are so popular that there are lines that people wait in for a half hour to get their offerings. This is a very popular event.
My next event that is quite popular for Fiesta is the St. Mary’s University Oyster Bake. This event, held the first two nights of Fiesta at St. Mary’s University on the West Side of San Antonio, is a celebration of all things oyster. There are baked oysters, baked oysters, smoked oysters, fried oysters, any kind of oysters plus all kinds of other foods. The event, as so many of Fiesta’s events, are held outdoors so we always hope for good weather for Oyster Bake. There is a cover-charge to get into Oyster Bake, just as there is to get into other Fiesta events, but once there you get to sample all the various foods–and oysters and wine. Oyster Bake, because it is the first official Fiesta event, is quite popular.
Another popular Fiesta event is the Fiesta Cavaliers’ Parade. I know, another parade. But this parade is quite unique. This is a parade on the river, on barges. The Texas Cavaliers sponsor this parade and it is held on the Monday of Fiesta week, after Oyster Bake. On Monday evening, the decorated barges float down the river to the Rivercenter Mall, past the Arneson River Theater where many people have paid top-dollar for seats, and many other people line the sides of the Riverwalk to see the parade. There is a stated theme each year for the parade and all the barges are decorated according to that theme. There are mariachi bands on some of the barges. There are also jazz bands on some of the barges and also singers. The officers of the Texas Cavaliers ride of one of the barges. There are about 30 barges in all. This past Friday was “barge in” day in San Antonio, the day the crane lifted all the barges into the river. They will be decorated now. I had to be downtown at the point where the barges were put into the river. The street was closed while the crane worked to load the barges into the river. Traffic was diverted all day. A major headache for me, at least.
The last event on my list is a personal favorite. It is the Charrieda, the Mexican rodeo. This event actually takes place twice, on the two Sunday afternoons of Fiesta, at a complex on the south side of San Antonio. They sell burritos and tacos and flautas and nachos as snacks. The rodeo consists of traditional vachero tricks and women’s riding skills. This are all things that you don’t see at a regular rodeo. The male participants are all dressed in fancy dress with wide-brimmed hats and costumes that resemble mariachi costumes but are brown. They rope cattle and calfs. They perform El Paseo del Muerte, the pass of death, where one vachero reaches to catch another who is riding to his own horse. Then there is the precision riding of the women riders. There are about nine or ten of them all riding in unison. They all wear beautiful white dresses with colored sashes and wear wide-brimmed hats. They race across the stadium, pull their horses up to stop at the last second and give a salute to the audience to thunderous applause. They are magnificent! The Charrieda is heart-stopping, and heart-racing. It is a spectacle that you won’t soon forget.
So there you have it. This is my short list of my top five Fiesta San Antonio events: Battle of Flowers Parade, NIOSA, Oyster Bake, Texas Cavaliers’ Parade, Charrieda. These wouldn’t make everyone’s top five list but they would make some people’s list and they surely are MY list as popular and my own personal favorites. And as this is my list, they make the list. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little about Fiesta in San Antonio and what we have to offer at our annual multi-day party. And what a party it is. Come to San Antonio in April and join us for Fiesta!