Fiesta Fiesta 2017 makes history with venue change to Hemisfair Park

For the first time in Fiesta history, Fiesta Fiesta is held at Hemisfair Park and 2017 also features the first Hispanic King Antonio for the Texas Cavaliers.

SAN ANTONIO - The 2017 edition of Fiesta will be a year of many firsts. One of the biggest game changers is the kickoff event "Fiesta Fiesta," which was relocated to Hemisfair Park for the first time in history.

Last year, park police told the Fiesta Commission that between 10,000 and 12,000 people attended Fiesta Fiesta inside Alamo Plaza.

The problem is that Alamo Plaza only holds about 10,000.

With that, the Fiesta Commission thought it was the perfect opportunity to change venues.

"It started in 1891 with the Battle of Flowers and then, over the course of the years, it's just been organic growth," said Amy Shaw, executive director of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission.

The Fiesta tradition began at the Alamo when horse-drawn carriages brought women down to the mission. The ladies would throw flowers at each other, memorializing the fallen heroes.

That tradition became the Battle of Flowers Parade.

"Everything grows, evolves, and meets new needs," Shaw said. "We want to keep our current customers very happy, but also welcome some new people too."

For the 126th year of Fiesta, the event "Fiesta Fiesta" will be held in Hemisfair Park.

"We're still reintroducing people to this new, redeveloped Hemisfair. So this is a great chance to do that," said Drew Hicks, communications manager for Hemisfair.

Crews arrived to Hemisfair Park at the crack of dawn to start setting up food booths and the music stage for the kickoff event.

"It's nice that it's warm. I'd be ok if it was less warm!" said artist David Morgan, who designed the gate to the Pin Pandemonium walkway.

Inside Pin Pandemonium, the most die hard Fiesta medal hoarders had the entire walkway to buy, sell, and trade medals.

"All these pins that are up on [the gate] were actually created for this year's Fiesta," Morgan noted.

Volunteers worked all morning painting Hemisfair Park with the most colorful decor.

"[We] just repurposed a lot of old decorations, brought them out here, tied some ribbon on them, and voila!" said Fernando Villarreal, director of operations of the Fiesta Commission.

Linda Skop, a commissioner with the Fiesta Commission said that volunteers helped make 300 paper flowers that also helped decorate Hemisfair Park.

Officials told KENS 5 that this "party with a purpose" will be bigger and better than ever. They expected record attendance at the 2017 Fiesta Fiesta event.

"We're gonna have Pin Pandemonium on Nueva Street. The big pin exchange will be happening," Hicks said. "We'll have food and beverage vendors in the park and all along South Alamo Street and art in the park. It's gonna be crazy. A good kind of crazy."

Eight musical acts performed Thursday night, and thanks to the additional park space inside Hemisfair, folks had room for more activities for the family.

Fiesta Fiesta took place in the middle of the redevelopment of Hemisfair Park.

"The park that's open today is really just Phase 1. It's only four acres," Hicks said. "In the years to come, Hemisfair will continue to expand to the northwest with Civic Park and to the east with Tower Park."

Another significant Fiesta first is the election of the first Mexican-American King Antonio of the Texas Cavaliers. Congratulations, Dr. Michael Casillas!

For more information on the year-round events happening at Hemisfair, visit Hemisfair.org.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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