(From left) Leonardo, 12, and Leonel, 7, practice before the Rey Feo parade.
(From left) Leonardo, 12, and Leonel, 7, practice with their instruments before the crowning of El Rey Feo at Main Plaza in 2018. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

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San Antonio is finally ready to party again. Fiesta returns on June 17 with an opening celebration at Hemisfair, followed by 10 more days of events.

The annual citywide celebration was called off in March 2020 and rescheduled to November of that year, before being canceled entirely. Fiesta was then moved from its usual mid-April dates to June, in order to best cope with pandemic safety protocols.

Acknowledging the gradual return of tourism to the city, Steve Rosenauer, executive director of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission, welcomed “San Antonians and our national and international guests” in a news release.

The Fiesta schedule was made public Tuesday, with a reduced slate of 50 sanctioned events, down from more than 100 in previous years. Some traditional favorites are included, with notable exceptions.

Gone are most of the festive parades that have drawn thousands to crowd downtown streets in past years. And although the website of the annual Oyster Bake would have counted its canceled 2020 event as its 104th year, the annual St. Mary’s University Alumni Association benefit will wait until 2022 for its return.

The pandemic is cheerfully acknowledged with a special Fiesta “Show Me Your Mask” event June 18 at Palo Alto College, replacing the “Show Me Your Shoes” tradition.

Fiesta de los Reyes takes its place at Market Square beginning June 18, with the crowning of El Rey Feo nearby in Main Plaza at 5:30 p.m. and a reception to follow at the Henry B. González Convention Center.

King Antonio will be crowned in Alamo Plaza at 6 p.m. on June 19, followed by the Texas Cavaliers River Parade launching June 21 at 7 p.m. on the River Walk.

The four-day A Night In Old San Antonio (NIOSA) party begins June 22 in La Villita, and other favorites such as the Mission Reach Flotilla Fiesta, Fiesta de los Niños, Fiesta Gartenfest at the Beethoven Halle and Garden, the Ford Mariachi Festival, A Day in Old Mexico and Charreada at the Rancho del Charro, and the 10th Street River Festival will all return this year.

Runners, walkers, rollers, strollers, and bicyclists will take to the streets for the Fiesta Run to Remember and the Fiesta Especial Inclusion 5K and Parade on June 19, the Fiesta Wildflower Ride on June 20, the Fiesta Tech Trek on June 22, and the Fiesta de los Spurs Run June 26.

The 2021 Praise Dance celebration on June 27 will be held as a virtual event, free with a link provided online.

The festival will conclude June 27 with its traditional La Reina de la Feria de las Flores reception, 5 p.m. at Paesano’s on the River Walk.

Regarding pandemic safety protocols, the news release states that “each Fiesta event will have its own COVID-19 safety protocols, but the Fiesta Commission has encouraged all of its Participating Member Organizations (PMOs) to follow CDC, Metro Health, City of San Antonio and Bexar County guidelines. Many Fiesta events will require face mask wearing and social distancing.”

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank

Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with an indie rock...