Folklife used to be my favorite San Antonio event. The different foods and events and cultural diversity spotlighted San Antonio as a unique and varied city. Not that I don’t like Fiesta, but it wasn’t all Bud Light, turkey legs and funnel cake (the quintessential San Antonio festival that spotlights general [good-natured] drunkenness — I really do love Fiesta for its own merits).
But this year, the festival turned 40 and it’s starting to sag in places. Large swaths of the event have been overrun by carny folk or just emptied entirely. The Thais didn’t go. The Czechs didn’t go. And there were others that forsook the heat (which is nothing new) and high prices (well, it just keeps going up, doesn’t it?). While there were still lots of vendors/displays in the Back Forty, the path leading back there along IH-37 is barren. Most of the South American booths near the federal courthouse/Schultze House entrance have disappeared (poor Peru was set up next to a chuck-a-ball-at-something booth). All in all, a disappointment.
I volunteered at the Texana booth (an excellent library department and enjoyable volunteering opportunity) again this year so I got in free for the three days but I don’t think I’ll even do that next year. Sad that this tradition of showcasing culture — so vibrant and alive in South Texas — has so quickly fallen ill.