Over the past 25 years, Southtown has blossomed into a neighborhood full of art, food, and thriving small businesses, and proud area residents and business owners alike think it’s time to showcase that growth to the broader community.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, Southtown the Arts District (STAD) invites neighbors and visitors from other parts of the city to the area for the first-ever STADfest, a day-long “open house” event for attendees to experience all of the amenities that Southtown has to offer.

Everything from food to art to live music performances will be available from 12-10 p.m. – rain or shine – throughout the district, which stretches north to south from César E. Chavez Boulevard to I-90 and east to west from I-37 to I-35. The event, which also involves participation by all of the district’s five neighborhood associations and schools, is meant to be both informative and celebratory, said STAD Vice President Yvette Benavides.

“There’s such a spotlight on (Southtown) and we want to celebrate everyone who has created that spotlight,” Benavides said.

Business owners, developers, chefs, and others from the neighborhood have collaborated for the celebration, which will feature about 30 events throughout the day. H-E-B South Flores Market, Il Forno, Viva Vegeria, Blue Star Provisions, Marias Café, Cevallos Lofts, and SoFlo Market, among others, will host on-site activities and provide incentives and discounts for patrons to eat, exercise, and shop at their establishments.

H-E-B, for example, will host music and two free yoga sessions on the patio, along with free snacks for participants, while Il Forno will feature an all-day happy hour with $6 margherita pizzas and $2 Lone Stars. A number of other establishments will host various  beer and cocktail tastings, along with other activities that can be found here.

For a map of events, click here.

Local artists and organizations such as SAY Sí, S.M.A.R.T., and Blue Star Contemporary will also offer free art workshops and open their studios to the public, all culminating in the Second Saturday art walk in the Lone Star neighborhood. Live music will be provided by five different bands at S.M.A.R.T.’s 1906 studio, Benavides said.

San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) schools also are sources of pride in the district, Benavides said, and all four situated in the area will participate in the event. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Briscoe Elementary School will host an art display and a BBQ fundraiser, and Brackenridge High School will feature a student art exhibition from 12-2 p.m. The exhibition – What Do I See? What Do I Hear? Where Am I Going? – will feature multi-media art work focusing on the structure of human hands, eyes, ears, and feet.

Bonham Elementary School students will put on a Peter Pan performance along with a mini art gallery in the school hallway from 12-2 p.m., and Harris Middle School will host a Zumba fitness fundraiser and Chalkfest, where participants rent a space at the campus and create a chalk drawing for the chance to win a prize.

Benavides said that along with interacting with STAD residents and business owners, STADfest is also a great opportunity for attendees to experience the San Antonio River, which now features hike and bike trails that connect various destinations throughout the area, along with Alazán Creek. Participants are encouraged to walk, skate, or bike to events, Benavides said, and Blue Star Bike Shop will offer discounted $10 bike rentals for the entire day.

“The hope is that people use our river to connect to our different points (in the event),” she said.

Benavides and her husband Andy, who has worked in the area since the early ’90s, started STAD in 2014 as a way to “unify, market and promote STAD’s creative culture and businesses under one brand making it easier for the general public, collectors, and tourists to find us,” according to the STAD website.

So far, about 130 individuals and businesses have joined the effort, Benavides said, all from a diverse range of expertise and backgrounds. Each of them, she added, has greatly contributed to Southtown’s overall culture and booming economy that has grown to receive much recognition today.

STADfest will be an opportunity for the wider San Antonio community to get to know the people of Southtown and their passions.

“So many people have worked so hard over the last 25 years to make this area what it is, and they’re very proud of what they do,” Benavides said. “It’s time to showcase all the hard work we’ve done.”

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Camille Garcia

Camille Garcia is a journalist born and raised in San Antonio. She formerly worked at the San Antonio Report as assistant editor and reporter. Her email is camillenicgarcia@gmail.com