Not long after 6 p.m. Friday, the dancing at the 36th annual Tejano Conjunto Festival Friday was in full force.
Just five minutes after the classic Westside event kicked off, the pavilion at Rosedale Park was filled with dancing and spectators sitting in lawn chairs with cold beers in their hands, nodding their heads to the music. Couples of all ages, most of them donned in cowboy boots and hats, took to the dance floor as soon as the first note was played by the accordionist in Flavio Longoria y Los Conjunto Kings, the first of more than 30 bands that will play at the festival all weekend.
Later in the night, Retoño, Mando y La Venganza, Rio Jordan and Juanito Castillo, and Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers were scheduled to play, with Boni Mauricio y Los Maximos closing the night out.
Anna Garza, a San Antonio native who has been going to the festival for more than 10 years, sat in her lawn chair after dancing to the first few songs with her husband, Eliseo. The music and the dancing keeps them coming back each year, she said.
“We don’t care who’s playing,” she said. “If they’re playing here, they’re good.”
The festival, hosted annually by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, typically features bands from all over the region, and a few out-of-towners, too. The crowd is a mix of locals and even some international fans who make their annual pilgrimage to San Antonio to enjoy the music, dancing, and culture. The balmy May weather in South Texas has yet to deter large crowds – usually about 6,000 people over the course of the weekend – from taking part in the festivities.
“I think that it brings out people that don’t normally come out to enjoy the music, too,” Garza said.
The Tejano Conjunto Festival will continue Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. with the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Accordion Students & Conjunto Heritage Taller and closing out with Tony Tigre y la Rosa de Oro.
Sunday will feature the biggest names in conjunto music, including Santiago Jimenez Jr., Eva Ybarra, Flaco Jimenez, David Lee Garza y Los Musicales.
Tickets, which cost $15 Saturday and $12 Sunday, can be purchased at the event.