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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Mermaids swim through the streets at annual Festival and Promenade


Hula halau Kae’epa Hawaiian dancer Noenoe Dyer performs on the street during The Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Downtown San Marcos.

The sound of music, the smell of food and the sight of mermaid couture brought the community together for its sixth annual Mermaid Festival and Promenade on Saturday.
Organized by the Mermaid Society of Texas, The Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest has been an annual San Marcos event since 2016. Founder of the Mermaid Society of Texas, July Moreno, was inspired by the rich mermaid history of San Marcos that traces back to the Aquarena Springs amusement park to create The Mermaid Society.
The organization’s main goal is to raise awareness of the San Marcos River, and the Mermaid Festival, its biggest event, does that by utilizing San Marcos’ title as the Mermaid Capital of Texas.
“The mermaid for San Marcos just puts San Marcos on the map,” Moreno said, “It’s truly unique in that way people expect a mermaid in maybe coastal towns, but in San Marcos, maybe to some people, it doesn’t make sense which gives us an opportunity to talk about that and why that’s important for us. There we go into segue into talking about our San Marcos River.”
Lauren Vecchio, an education alumna, has lived in San Marcos for seven years but had never made it out to Mermaid Fest. She was eager to attend the Mermaid Fest for the first time this year dressed in full mermaid gear from head to toe.
Vecchio was also in the promenade that started at the corner of CM Allen and Cheatham St. The parades festivities continued at the Downtown Street Faire.
Vecchio said the mermaid symbol in San Marcos makes her appreciate the city for its uniqueness and small-town big culture feel.
“A town needs something to come together for and I think what better thing than the mermaid itself,” Vecchio said. “It’s so mystic everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I love it. I feel like the idea of a mermaid and a unicorn and all those special things, I feel like that’s what San Marcos is to everyone that comes here.”
Moreno’s goal for the Mermaid Fest is to have people across Texas, the U.S. and the world celebrate San Marcos’ unique culture like they do other popular festivities such as San Antonio’s Fiesta and New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. She is already halfway there as San Marcos residents are not the only ones who show up to enjoy the magical event.
Friends Lori Dowty from Seguin, Texas, and Becky Wiggins from Austin, Texas, traveled to San Marcos to celebrate the Mermaid Fest. Dowty discovered the festival last year but said she felt left out because she wasn’t in costume. The minute Dowty arrived home from the festival last year she started planning out her costume for this year.
“I randomly came one day because my daughter and I were bored so we just got in the car and came here dressed normal, and were like, ‘we’re going next year and we are going to dress it up. We are going all out,'” Dowty said.
Not only was Dowty decked out in mermaid attire, but she invited her friend Wiggins to come and enjoy the event with her. Both Dowty and Wiggins said they love the event for its peaceful feel, the camaraderie of San Marcos civilians and the bright smiles of everyone that surrounded them. Wiggins enjoyed her first Mermaid Fest and plans to attend next year.
“I really love how whimsical it is, and just fun,” Wiggins said. “I like celebrating the women’s energy.”
Dowty and Wiggins plan to make the event their own annual event, making their costumes bigger and better every year.
Before the pandemic, the Mermaid Fest spanned two weeks with events like the Mermaid Promenade, The Downtown Street Faire, The River Guardianship Symposium, The Art and Culture Symposium, The Mermaid Society Art Ball, The Aqua Faire and The Mer-tini Shakedown Competition, with dates open in between for businesses to host their own contributing mermaid events.
This year, the Mermaid Fest was only a combination of three events: the Mermaid Promenade, the Downtown Street Faire and the River Guardianship Symposium, a community conversation and celebration of the growth of the Great Springs Project. Next year they hope to bring back all the events and add on a Dash and Slash 5k event and the Eco-Fashion Runway event.
Moreno is proud to see how far Mermaid Fest has come since 2016. At one of the first Mermaid Fests, people discouraged her expectations of the number of people who would actually attend. Seven years later, however, San Marcos continues to show up.
Forever fueled by the community and volunteers that help Moreno make Mermaid Fest possible, The Mermaid Society plans to continue to put on the annual event.
“It is to unite our community,” Moreno said. “To unite our community and to have this sense of one community where the university and San Marcos are one community. Everything that happens in San Marcos involves all of us. It benefits all of us.”
The Mermaid Society won’t stop at the festival to bring together the community and raise awareness for the San Marcos River. They plan to continue to participate in river clean-ups, preserve and foster a greater mermaid culture in San Marcos and further expand their eco-education program for kids.
“Stay tuned to Mermaid Society, our vision is far and wide,” Moreno said.
For more information on The Mermaid Society visit www.mermaidsocietysmtx.com/.

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  • Seguin resident Lili Dowty (right) gets her face painted with mermaid art during The Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, on The Square.

  • Local artist Ana Carolina sets up her paintings to frame in her booth during The Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, on The Square.

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