Hundreds of families and friends gathered at Mission County Park Pavilions on Saturday to view colorful kayaks and canoes during the inaugural Mission Reach Flotilla Festival. Though the festival is not yet an official Fiesta event, attendees were dressed in their best festive gear, and picking up special limited-editions medals from the San Antonio River Foundation.

The festival, hosted by the San Antonio River Foundation (SARF) and the San Antonio River Authority (SARA), celebrated the recently developed Mission Reach, which offers more than 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, and water spaces for locals to canoe and kayak. 

Ten local organizations and individuals took part in the decorating contest, while more than 50 individuals paddled and kayaked their way through the flotilla. 

Several local leaders served as festival judges, including Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez, who served as the festival’s Grand Marshal.

Judges selected entries that demonstrated creativity, humor and fiesta spirit. Eric A. Martin won the “Best Paddle Board” category with “Fiesta on A Paddle Board,” Armando Cortez won “Best Use of Recycled Materials” with “My Refrigerator Door,” Rose Thomas won “Most Humorous” with “Viking Enjoying Fiesta,” Maggie (No last name given) won “Grand Marshal’s Choice” with “La Chalupa,” Glenn Burt and Emily Kinder won ” Most Creative” with “Cha Cha Lupa,” and Bill Whitaker won “Best Overall” with “Diego the Conquerer.”

Following the flotilla,  attendees were invited to enjoy free, family-friendly activities, and an evening of live music performances by artists like Los Texmaniacs and Jimmy Gonzalez y Grupo Mazz.

Top Image: Contestants Nathan Young and Ruben Gonzalez’s dog Hooch stands onto of a fiesta themed paddle board.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Lea Thompson is a Texas native who has lived in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. She enjoys exploring new food and culture events. Follow her adventures on Instagram, Twitter or Culture Spoon.