A Spurs fan poses for a photo during NIOSA 2015 at La Villita. Photo by Scott Ball.
A Spurs fan poses for a photo during NIOSA 2015 at La Villita. Photo by Scott Ball.

Growing up on the Northside often left me distant or unaware of events happening downtown. My parents rarely ventured downtown, but without fail they would go to the San Antonio Conservation Society‘s NIOSA (A Night in Old San Antonio). I wasn’t invited. So as a child I often fantasized about what exactly went on during one of Fiesta’s most celebrated events. I pictured waterfalls of Mexican beer, the smell of fried food that lingers on clothes for weeks, and drunken fist fights over how many beer cups the next guy had stacked up in his hand.

I finally went to NIOSA for the first time Wednesday night and it turns out I wasn’t too far off. Let’s be honest: it’s an excuse to go get drunk and eat as much street food as possible, and apparently that’s just what people are looking for. Proceeds from the event go straight to the Conservation Society – it is a “party with a purpose,” after all.

With rows upon rows of food vendors, it’s hard to escape the smell of turkey legs or avoid the eye-stinging smoke rising from the grills. The event seemed well patrolled with police officers at every angle – many of them perched on stands about eight feet high for a better view of the crowd. The bright colors typically worn at Fiesta events were unusually absent during NIOSA Wednesday night. I had to search through crowds for color and interesting Fiesta knick-knacks.

If alcoholic drinks and food served on a stick are your cups of tea – and you don’t mind a crowd – you have two more days – Thursday and Friday – to catch NIOSA –but prepare yourself: Thursday night, April 23, is unofficially known as College Night.

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Scott Ball

Scott Ball is San Antonio Report's photo editor and grew up in San Antonio.