Are you planning to go to San Antonio? Then you should definitely witness and experience Fiesta San Antonio. It is a yearly event that happens every April in San Antonio, Texas. This is the city’s signature event, and it started in 1891. The festival is also known as the Battle of Flowers, and it honors the Battle of Alamo, which happened in San Antonio as well as the Battle of San Jacinto, which freed Texas from Mexico in 1836. This is the biggest festival in San Antonio, and it is known to have an economic impact of about $340 million for the city. In this article, we will know more about the Fiesta San Antonio and how it started.
In 1890, San Antonio, Texas, was a developing trading center with a population of 38,000. In 1891, the people of San Antonio wanted to honor the heroes of the Battle of San Jacinto and Alamo with a Battle of Flowers. That is why they organized a parade with horse-drawn carriages and bicycles that were decorated with flowers. As the parade goes by, people pelted each other with flowers. The Battle of Flowers is known to be the country’s first Fiesta that is planned and directed by women. When the Battle of Flowers proved to be a successful event, more events occurred on or near April 21 each year, such as balls, carnivals, and coronations of “royalty.” And since then, the Fiesta had been an annual tradition.
In 1909, one of the oldest Fiesta organizations named the Order of the Alamo was founded by John Carrington. The members of this organization meet at least once a year to choose who will be the queen and her court for the following year. The queen’s court has a princess, 12 from out of town duchesses, and 12 in-town. They are featured in the main Fiesta parades. As the years passed, the Fiesta royalty gets more prominent, and it now included King Selamat, King Cotton, King Antonio, and King Omala.
In 1925, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas staged their pilgrimage to the Alamo. This pilgrimage is not to the heritage of Texas and the Alamo heroes. You can witness a wreath-bearing procession of civic, historical, military, patriotic, and school groups walk in silence to the Alamo. While they walk, and there is an announcer who says the name of the Alamo defenders.
In 1948, the Fiesta Flambeau Parade began. It featured four-ma brigades that marched between other units while carrying torches nestled on five-foot poles during its early years. Today, the Boy Scouts are assigned to take the safety flares while all the floats in the Flambeau Parade are lighted. That same year, A Night in Old San Antonio or NIOSA joined the Fiesta. To make it a successful parade, they need about 16,000 volunteers each year.
In 1980, El Rey Feo, or also known as the “ugly king,” started his reign over Fiesta. This monarch comes from a medieval tradition where peasants get to be elected, asking for a day. Aside from their appearance at Fiesta events, the Fiesta kings and queens also visit the school, hospitals, and nursing homes.
The Battle of Flowers Tradition still lives on, and they even use horse-drawn carriages decorated with locally-sourced flower blossoms. Today, the Battle of Flowers celebrates over 125 years of blooming tradition.
Over the years, the Fiesta has grown to be a one day parade to a 10-day celebration with about 100 events that features food, sports, music, military and patriotic observances, pageantry, shows, and exhibits. Each of the activities is sponsored by nonprofit organizations. Other Fiestas included polo matches, synchronized swimming, regattas, rifle competitions, hot-air balloon race, and even bowling tournaments. There are other long-time traditions and parades in the Fiesta, and these are:
- St. Mary’s Oyster Bake – This two-day event features food, specifically about 100,000 oysters, and live music on St. Mary’s University. The Oyster Bake has been a tradition in San Antonio for over 90 years.
- Cornyation – This is a show where you get to witness lampooning San Antonio personalities and headlines.
- Women’s Fiesta Soccer Tournament – Here, you get to witness an invitational tournament where top teams from the nation compete.
- Pooch Parade – As the name implies, the pooch parade is where you get to see dogs parade down the streets of San Antonio.