todayJuly 1, 2021 172

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By Darcie Papillion
Web Content Contributor

As people make their way through the gates, a feeling of excitement spreads throughout the crowd of people, after all, NIOSA (Night In Old San Antonio), or Fiesta, is back!

NIOSA is a four-night festival held in the heart of downtown San Antonio. The festival, established in 1936, was a simple one-day harvest festival that has grown over time and has held different names such as: “Indian Festival” or “River Festival,” yet, it marked its name “Night In Old San Antonio” in 1948, and in 1958 it expanded to four nights of festivities.

The festival is usually held in mid to late April, but due to COVID-19 in 2020, the event had sadly been canceled. However, this year, COVID-19 was not stopping this annual festival, although it was pushed back from its original date in April to June.

Located on the grounds of La Villita Historic Arts Village District this five-hour festival is filled with music, food, and life. As you stroll through NIOSA, you see multiple heritages represented, such as: American, Chinese, German, French, and more, shown throughout the night through food stands, stages of live music, and booths that sell shirts, and much more.

It is ironic in the sense that a lot of my family has resided in San Antonio my whole life, yet I had never been to this festival until now. I remember being a little girl in town visiting my tías and primos, and we would drive through downtown San Antonio seeing it packed with people and I wished to be in that crowd experiencing what it was that they were. Now, I can finally say I was able to.

A young couple pose holding onto one another smiling at the camera in front of a sombrero wagon.
Fellow Bobcats enjoying the festival! Image by Juan Lee.

NIOSA was everything I could have ever imagined and more. It was pretty up-to-date with technology too. After entering the festival, you had to buy a “blast pass” before you were able to purchase anything else. This pass was a wristband that after you put money onto it gives you a certain amount of credits that would be scanned via app by vendors. This was convenient as I hate loose change. But besides that futuristic detail, the festival was filled with its historical element.

While walking through the festival, my money was well spent. Even before entering, it was a necessity to purchase a flower crown. So, $10 later, I had my light-up silver tinsel crown. As I entered the French Quarter section, I spent my money on cajun shrimp, chicken, shrimp gumbo, and sausage on a stick with a delicious piece of bread sitting on top. That was not the only place to take my money, seeing as I have a weakness for roasted corn.

In hindsight, I was on a mission to find a cup of Elote or the roasted corn itself; however, this beautiful reunion did not end happily ever after as I ended up getting chile in my eye. Overall, the corn with butter, pepper, lemon pepper, and chile was a 10 out of 10 and something I will get at next year’s festival.

NIOSA was such a beautiful experience as people from all over attended and lived in the moment. I even saw a few fellow Bobcats! I wish there were more I could say, but words will never do a festival justice. NIOSA is something you will have to enjoy and experience yourself. The people walking around in colorful and festive clothing, the array of different foods from chicken on a stick to mangonadas, and the live music is something I wish was an everyday event.

If you did not go this year, go ahead and put it on your calendar to attend NIOSA 2022!

Featured Image by Darcie Papillion

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