Just one of several cultural dances/activities during the 2012 NIOSA festivities. Photo by Corey Leamon.

We’re now in my favorite part of Fiesta. In the traditional 10-day schedule, the start of NIOSA—a Night In Old San Antonio—is when we would reach the halfway point of Fiesta. So begin the days that fly by and the nights filled with parties. Each of these events happen on multiple days, but they all start today. Let’s get to it San Antonio. Read more about tonight’s start of Cornyation and Wednesday’s Coronation  via Jackie Calvert’s story today on the Rivard Report here.

Fiesta Flower Show

This two-day flower show presented by the Women’s Club of San Antonio shows off some of the most colorful flower arrangements you’ll see this Fiesta 2014. The club is one of the twelve founding members of the Fiesta Commission in San Antonio, and this is the 101st annual flower show and competition. The event is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free to attend.

Mariachi Festival

What’s better than a mariachi band belting out “Volver Volver” while you dine on the River Walk? Why multiple mariachi groups cruising along on river barges playing all your favorites, of course. The Mariachi Festival brought to you by the Paseo del Río Foundation begins tonight and runs through Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. You’ll hear students from local high schools and colleges as well as professional mariachis croon as they float along the river. Get your gritos ready, it’s going to be a good time.

Night In Old San Antonio (NIOSA)

All right folks, this is it, my favorite party of all Fiesta. The celebration of the different cultures that have impacted San Antonio kicks off tonight through Friday. NIOSA is like an adult version of Epcot, with German, French, Mexican and Old West sections (just to name a few) that serve unique food and drinks to their culture. NIOSA is crowded, loud and surprisingly ends at 10:30 p.m. each night, so it is helpful to go in with a little bit of a game plan.

If you get to La Villita right when the gates open, I would make a beeline straight away for Maria’s tortillas. Essentially a handmade tortilla topped with either butter or salsa, locals will begin lining up in droves to get a taste of this masa goodness. Another food item that people love is the antichuchos, or grilled skewers of marinated beef, located just outside the German hall where the salsa band plays. I personally love the buñuelos, a crispy pastry topped with cinnamon and sugar, as well as the halved avocados topped with a scoop of salsa and sour cream.

As the night progresses, you’ll want to make your way into the big German hall. It is the largest part of NIOSA that’s indoors (read: it has air conditioning). Not only can you get sausage-on-a-stick, you’ll be able to dance to a live polka band. Don’t know how to polka or schottische? Drink a couple of their German beers and you’ll be fine. Don’t leave the hall until the Chicken Dance comes around.

The whole celebration benefits that San Antonio Conservation Society, created to help preserve and encourage preservation of historic buildings, objects, places and customs relating to the history of Texas. Admission is $15 at the gate, but if you’re smart you’ll buy your tickets in advance where you can bypass the onsite ticket line (along with saving $3). You can find more tips for surviving NIOSA that I wrote about last year on my blog SA Flavor.

Councilman Diego Bernal‘s Fiesta Medal

District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal's 2014 Fiesta medal. Photo courtesy of Diego Bernal.
District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal’s 2014 Fiesta medal. Photo courtesy of Diego Bernal.

One of the cleverest Fiesta medals this year was created by District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal. It features an 8-bit Mario character dressed as a mariachi and wearing a sombrero. His field office only had a handful left, so if you want to score one of these medals you better act fast. I’d call the office on Vance Jackson before making your way over there.

Let Garrett know about your favorite Fiesta event, awesome unofficial party or where he can find medals by emailing him at fiesta@saflavor.com.

Related Stories:

Prída: Artist & Designer On Stage At Fiesta 2014

San Antonio Symphony: A Fiesta Duchess in our Midst

Photo Gallery: Rey Feo Crowning and King Antonio Investiture Fiesta 2014

The Fiesta Arts Fair 2014: Fine Arts and Fun Times For All

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Garrett Heath

Garrett Heath blogs for Rackspace and is the Average Joe that started SA Flavor. He loves San Antonio, especially eating at mom and...