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Inventing the Fiesta City

Heritage and Carnival in San Antonio

Laura Hernández-Ehrisman

Publication Year: 2008

Fiesta San Antonio began in 1891 and through the twentieth century expanded from a single parade to over two hundred events spanning a ten-day period. Laura Hernández-Ehrisman examines Fiesta's development as part of San Antonio's culture of power relations between men and women, Anglos and Mexicanos.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to many friends and colleagues who have helped me through the process of writing this book. This study began as a short research paper for a graduate school class, became a master’s the-sis, and then a dissertation. In many ways, its evolving character is closely tied to my development as a scholar. Several members of the faculty of the ...

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Introduction: San Antonio’s Pedestrian Rhetoric

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pp. 1-17

My story begins with my first memory of walking the city. During my senior year of high school, I participated in San Antonio’s Battle of Flowers Parade, one of the central events of the city’s annual Fiesta. Each year, parade organizers sponsor four of the city’s public high schools, providing the float, costumes, and all the decorations. As a class officer in one of ...

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1: Battle of Flowers: Women and San Antonio’s Public Culture, 1891–1900

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pp. 18-43

As tourist destinations, cities and their long histories are often reduced to a particular defining moment. For San Antonio, that moment was the battle of the Alamo for Texas’s independence from Mexico. In the most popular story, the outnumbered Texans fought valiantly within that crumbling Spanish ...

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2: The Order of the Alamo: Heritage and Spring Carnival, 1900–27

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pp. 44-72

In order to understand how much Fiesta has changed in more than one hundred years, one must look at a few events that have changed very little. Here is one contemporary example. Ann Elizabeth of the House of Fisher, Duchess of Imperial Jewels in the Court of African Treasures, enters San Antonio’s municipal auditorium for Fiesta’s 2002 coronation. As the lord ...

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3: Night in Old San Antonio: The San Antonio Conservation Society, 1924–48

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pp. 73-102

Today, struggling through the crowds at fiesta’s Night in Old San Antonio (NIOSA), it is difficult to imagine this event as a romantic retreat to the “San Antonio of yore.” The festival seems just like many other urban street fairs, with its emphasis on music, fried foods, and overpriced beer. In 2002, the number of attendants during the four days of NIOSA was estimated at 46,551, and the amount of tax dollars generated ...

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4: Juan Q. Public: Reynolds Andricks and the Fiesta San Jacinto Association, 1950–70

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pp. 103-134

In April 1956, the editorial page of the San Antonio Express news featured an illustration inviting the city’s public to its annual Fiesta celebration. In the drawing, a mailman delivers a letter to a man at 123 Everystreet. The man smiles as he opens his Fiesta Fun invitation, which is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Juan Q. Public.1 This image represented ...

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5: Rey Feo and the Politics of Inclusion, 1970–2000

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pp. 135-168

The 2007 Miss Fiesta Scholarship Pageant was held in San Antonio’s historic Empire Theater, which had once hosted vaudeville shows and the first motion pictures. A relatively small theater, it provided an intimate atmosphere for the annual pageant. Before the performance former Miss Fiestas mingled with family members of pageant contestants, ...

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6: Fiesta Rowdiness: La Semana de Carnaval

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pp. 169-193

Weeks before San Antonio’s annual Battle of Flowers Parade, the Salazars claim their space along the parade route.1 The middle-aged couple picks up trash, mows the grass, and sprays ant killer on a small section of land at the Interstate 35 underpass at Broadway. They set up chairs and lights and bring food and drink to last them through ...

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pp. 194-198

During the Fiesta celebration of 1998, I viewed the annual pilgrimage to the Alamo. The late afternoon ceremony was sparsely attended, with about two hundred visitors sitting on outside bleachers facing the Alamo. On the grounds directly in front of the chapel’s entrance, empty chairs waited ...


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pp. 199-225


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pp. 226-232


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pp. 233-238

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780826343123
E-ISBN-10: 0826343120
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826343109
Print-ISBN-10: 0826343104

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 15 halftones
Publication Year: 2008