The watermelon raspa from Las Nieves. Photo by Scott Ball.
The watermelon raspa from Las Nieves. Photo by Scott Ball.

The second annual Raspa Fest is coming up this Saturday, Aug.15, in San Antonio’s Westside. Tickets for the all-day festival at Rosedale Park at 340 Dartmouth St., are $7 pre-sale or $10 at the gate and free for kids under 12.

To whet your appetite, here is a quick dip into the history and evolution of the famous icy treat:

Italian Ice goes back to the days of the first century. Nero would send a subject into the Alps to gather ice and then mix it with fruit or honey.

The Snow Cone was introduced at the State Fair of Texas by Samuel Bert who invented a machine to mechanically scrape ice for snow cones in the ’20s.

The Big Easy holds the claim to the Sno-Bliz because in 1934, a block-style ice shaving machine was patented by Ernest Hansen in New Orleans.

Baltimore’s Snow Ball dates back to the 1850s when parents would make a treat for their kids from ice wagons on their way to Florida.

Cubans may have their Granizados and Hawaiians enjoy their Shaved Ice. Dominican Republic neighborhoods cool off with Frio-Frio while Malaysia serves up Ice Kachang.

But down here in South Texas (and Mexico and Colombia), there is nothing like a raspa on a hot summer day.

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The San Antonio raspa vendor is like your favorite coffeehouse barista for his service and his skills. The Raspa-Man can combine sweet and salt, artificial flavors with acidic aftertaste, or serve up an icy concoction with screaming hot chili or esophagus-eroding chamoy.

Children often dream up their own raspa recipes. A rainbow can be any mixture of any quantity of colors. A “suicide” may combine flavors that don’t complement each other. Old-time residents from Reynosa may remember the “yuki” – the way snow cones are made when there is no electricity.

But all fans of the icy treat will enjoy the Second Annual Raspa Fest. Enjoy food with your raspa, listen to raspa music, have fun with new raspa flavorings. There will be a raspa eating contest and other games. A variety of food trucks will compliment a variety of musical acts.

Raspa Fest 2015 is hosted by Big Daddy’s Eats and Treats.

*Featured/top image: The watermelon raspa from Las Nieves.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Don Mathis

Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. His poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry,...