Fiesta San Antonio Celebrates 125th Anniversary

click to enlarge Fiesta San Antonio Celebrates 125th Anniversary
Photo by Lexi Murzea

What is Fiesta San Antonio?

Fiesta San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. It has evolved into one of this nation’s premier festivals with an economic impact of more than $284 million for the Alamo City. Fiesta is the Party With a Purpose. and the funds raised by official Fiesta events provide services to San Antonio citizens throughout the year. That commemoration still takes place, but for more than a century, Fiesta has grown into a celebration of San Antonio’s rich and diverse cultures. 2016 marks Fiesta's 125th anniversary!

History of FiestaIn 1891, a group of ladies decorated horse-drawn carriages, paraded in front of the Alamo, and pelted each other with flower blossoms. The parade was organized to honor the heroes from the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Since 1959 the Fiesta San Antonio Commission has made it happen! In fact, the commission coordinates the Fiesta planning activities of 100 local nonprofit organizations and the more than 75,000 volunteers it takes to make Fiesta San Antonio a real Texas-sized festival. Click here for full history of Fiesta San Antonio and learn more about our long-standing traditions.

Led by a volunteer board that includes community leaders and representatives from its nonprofit member organizations, the Commission works year-around to coordinate the thousands of details and day-to-day tasks essential to planning and executing the citywide celebration. The Commission acts as the liaison among participating member organizations, military participants, and City of San Antonio to provide services essential to the producing Fiesta San Antonio year after year.

The Commission promotes Fiesta San Antonio regionally, nationally, and internationally, and the festival has become a popular attraction for visitors from far and wide.

Some 3.5 million party-goers enjoy Fiesta San Antonio. More than 20 percent of Fiesta-goers travel from across the state, the nation, and even the world!
One of the most important functions of the Fiesta Commission is the funding of Fiesta events that are not financially self-supporting. In 2012 the commission provided some $375,000 to the participating member organizations that sponsor such events. The commission itself is funded entirely by the private sector and receives no governmental funding. Instead, it relies heavily on membership dues, retail sales and corporate participation to remain self-sustaining.

The commission also supports other local nonprofit groups like Scout troops, PTAs, civic clubs and others through parade street chair sales. These 100-plus groups can raise thousands of dollars each year–about $600,000 combined for the Battle of Flowers® and Fiesta Flambeau® parades.

Additionally, in honor of Fiesta San Antonio’s 125th anniversary, Olaf Harmel created The Royal 125. The official cocktail of Fiesta is a decadent, yet refreshing, way to celebrate in regal style.

“To me, tequila really represents Texas. Blending it with the opulent French flavors of Grand Marnier and Chenet give it that regal sensibility. It’s a refreshing and elegant springtime drink – and I mean, what’s more festive than champagne?”

The drink will be available at several events around town. Stay tuned to our social media sites for updated event info. But if you’re Alamo City royalty that likes to keep the party going after hours, make your own Royal 125s and share the photos with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Just search Fiesta San Antonio and you’ll find us.

The Royal 125
¼ oz. Grand Marnier
¼ oz. Salerno blood orange liqueur 
¼ oz. Amaretto
1 oz. Milagro Anejo Tequila
2-3 oz. Brut Sparkling Chenet
Garnish with blood orange slices and black cherry
Serve in a flute or coupe

History of Royal 125

In the fall of 2015, Amy Shaw (Exec. Director, Fiesta San Antonio Commission) challenged Smoke to come up with a cocktail to celebrate Fiesta. While working on creating a light festive concoction, Harmel was reminded that 2016 was the 125th anniversary of Fiesta San Antonio, with a flash of inspiration, he
promptly discarded his previous efforts and set about creating a drink fit for a royal occasion: The Royal 125.

Now well known in San Antonio cocktail circles, Olaf Harmel began his career in Corpus Christi at D’Lounge where he saw the possibility of re-inventing the classic ‘cocktail’ which had lost appeal among a younger generation. He began experimenting with different flavors and mixing styles to create fresh new libations. His opportunity in San Antonio came when he was asked to run Bar du Mon Ami in Alamo Heights, where his creativity was able to flourish as the bar grew in popularity with the resurgence of the “cocktail culture” in San Antonio. He gained a reputation for creating custom cocktails to suit the taste of individual patrons, subsequently he has entered, and won, several Cocktail competitions. From there he was lured to Blue Box at The Pearl where he was the personality for the Upstairs Bar. He remained at Blue Box for 3 ½ years before implementing the bar program at Brigid.

Harmel joined the Smoke Team in September as Corporate Beverage Director and oversees all the company bars and alcohol service, including Smoke Stone Oak, Smoke Downtown and Stir on Blanco Road.


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