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Fiesta Arts Fair: Great Therapy After a Bad-News Week

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Fiesta Arts Fair Brave Combo

Brave Combo entertains dancers and onlookers at Fiesta Arts Fair Saturday.

The Fiesta Arts Fair, for me, is the No. 1, not-to-miss event because it has it all: Handmade art and crafts you don’t find in stores, Fiesta food, live music, a charming and historic setting, tons of people to watch and places to sit and watch them.

In fact, the combination of cool breezes and sunny skies for this juried event at the Southwest School of Art’s Ursuline Campus, was just the therapy I (and hundreds of others) needed to put a terrible week behind us.

While shopping is my main focus, this year’s highlight on Saturday was Brave Combo, the band out of Denton. It’s purportedly a polka band, but at any moment they’re likely to change pace and suddenly belt out some salsa, 40s jazz or maybe Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 combined with a popular Italian folk song. Or “Wooly Bully.” Brave Combo does not play here every year, so I gladly spent about an hour and a half sitting in the courtyard, listening to them and cheering the brave dancers. (See note below.)

Then, it was time for my finely honed Fiesta Arts Fair routine — and here it is: First, I go alone. That is because I have learned, after 24 years of experience, that it’s best for everyone that way. I move fast, erratically, and get very antsy (that’s the nice word for it) if companions are dawdling at booths I have no interest in. Sound selfish? Sure, it is, but I bet there are lots of others that have a similar approach!)

Red Cat Bag Fiesta

Cat bag from fiber artist Leslie Bowman-Friedlander.

After covering the fair at speed, I then work my way back to the beginning and hit the booths I’ve mentally marked as “prime.” That’s when the serious shopping begins. Slowly, this time.

Saturday, I also took time out for a sausage taco and a warm chocolate chip cookie from Guillermo’s booth after making a grand total of two purchases, both from the same fabric arts booth (Bowman Fiber Designs, Booth 88).¬† I found no earrings (my usual quest) or other temptations, mostly at the pottery stands.

When the “work” of the day was done, I sat on a bench and talked to a woman whose family had been in San Antonio for five generations. We discussed the virtues of the old-style bean burros to the new, super-stuffed burritos. We like the smaller ones of days past better. We also wondered together why there wasn’t a place to get free water at the fair. (Maybe there was, but we couldn’t find it.)

I also discovered, and mourned, the loss of the gift shop — a regular stop on my path– before heading back to the car. On the way, I stopped to bury my face in the deep bank of confederate jasmine in bloom along a fence on Augusta Street, and to breathe in its fine, spicy scent, surely one of the best in the world. It was a good reminder that yes, bad weeks, even very bad weeks, always come to an end.


— If you go to Brave Combo’s website, here, read about their connection with West, Texas and plans for helping fundraising efforts in upcoming weeks for the city that was torn apart in an explosion Wednesday.

— The Fiesta Arts Fair, at the Southwest School of Art’s Ursuline Campus, 300 Augusta St. at Navarro Street, is open again Sunday, April 21, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

— The 3D art on the front page of this article on SavorSA is from S.D. Meadows Folk Art Studio and Gallery¬† in Palestine, Il.

Jasmine blooming along sidewalk at Southwest School of Art

Jasmine blooming along sidewalk at Southwest School of Art

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