At several points along the sidewalks of downtown San Antonio are signs for “River Walk” with arrows pointing to stairways leading down one story beneath the streets of the city. At the bottom of the stairs is the pedestrian street, River Walk, that winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks lined with restaurants and shops pass major tourist draws.
If you were to google riverwalkguide.com/attractions, you would find dozens of attractions along River Walk, but we think the Walk is enough of an attraction.
Our walk could be entitled “The Bridges of Bexar County” or “A Walk on the Mild Side—Below Street Level,” but I’m not sure if these titles could compete with the more well-known attractions, e.g., The Alamo.
Tour boats, taxi boats (these boats provided travelers with stops along the route and were identified by the checkered flags on the back), and work boats brought the river to life.
For example, a land squid.
Which brings me to the Mud Festival.
In January, public and media officials of the Alamo City vie for honors as the King and Queen of the Annual Mud Fest.
The festival features a host of crazy, not-your-normal festival events to go along with it, like the Mud Pie Ball, the Pub Crawl, the Mud parade and the annual Arts & Crafts Mud Show staged along the riverbank.
Here is where you might expect the announcement: "April Fool!"
But no, there is a Mud Festival.
"It takes on a Mardi Gras-style flavor of zany events and celebrations, where locals flock to enjoy what traditionally is the 'slower season' for visitors downtown.
(Although)..."hardly a slow season in San Antonio,...there are fewer visitors to the River Walk in early January than most other times of the year. And the Mud festival represents a time when the river resorts back to the locals to enjoy.
"And enjoy it they do! With an annual attendance near 20,000, the Mud Fest is proving that you can stage a party in San Antonio for just about any reason and can expect a crowd to show up" (wintertexansonline.com/mudfest).
So what is the purpose of the Mud Festival? Each year city workers drain the horseshoe portion of the downtown River Walk and take their heavy equipment into the river bed where they scoop up the debris that has accumulated from the millions of visitors (29 million at last count) that visit the River Walk every year.
And in addition to finding wedding rings and silverware from the many restaurants lining the river, there is a bit of friendly(?) mud-slinging occurring.