Hemisfair to Throw Itself a 50th Anniversary Party

Print Share on LinkedIn Comments More
Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation Director of Operations, Planning & Development Omar Gonzalez speaks at the Hemisfair 50th Anniversary Announcement Press Event.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Omar Gonzalez of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation talks about Hemisfair's plans for a 50th anniversary celebration.

Hemisfair Park will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year with a three-day ¡Viva Hemisfair! festival set for April. Part of San Antonio’s Tricentennial celebration, the festival will celebrate the city’s diverse residents and reflect on the park’s past and future.

Since Yanaguana Garden opened in October 2015, Hemisfair has grown in popularity. Organizers want to capitalize on interest in the park as redevelopment in the area proceeds. Over a million visitors have visited the park since that opening, 90% of them locals from all 10 of San Antonio’s City Council districts, according to Hemisfair Communications Manager Drew Hicks.

The anniversary festival, scheduled for April 6-8, is an independently organized Tricentennial event celebrating the momentum of Hemisfair.

“The Tricentennial and the 50th year of Hemisfair is a time definitely to celebrate,” said Andres Andujar, CEO of the Hemisfair Area Redevelopment Corporation, on Friday. “These big anniversaries don’t come around often in our lifetime.”

Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation CEO Andres Andujar welcomes the crowd to the Hemisfair 50th Anniversary Announcement Press Event.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation CEO Andres Andujar announces Hemisfair’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Like the 1968 World’s Fair, for which Hemisfair Park was created, the festival wants to showcase cultural diversity. But unlike the World’s Fair, which drew many outside delegations to the city, organizers of the festival want San Antonians to be the ones who put their own cultural heritage on display.

Designated zones will offer food, music, and interactive demonstrations featuring many different cultures. A maker’s village will give kids the opportunity to experiment with technologies such as 3-D printing. Public arts and recreated events from the 1968 fair will offer entertainment. Venues in the park, such as the Institute of Texan Cultures and the Mexican Cultural Institute, will be hosting their own events and activities. For instance, ITC will stage a fashion retrospective displaying fashions from the last 50 years. Admission to the festival will be free, but some events will require a paid ticket.

The festival also will offer visitors experiences from the park’s past. Along with recreating activities, tour guides who participated in the 1968 fair will give tours of the park’s historic homes. Organizers are asking people to submit their memories of Hemisfair’s distant and more recent past, and those recollections will be published leading up to the start of the festival.

The festival comes at a time when Hemisfair’s redevelopment is fundamentally transforming the 19-acre area of parkland. For the first time since 1968, high-density residential living and retail development is returning to the site of the former “Germantown” neighborhood.

“Mixed-use development will join new parks and streets to restore the neighborhood density that existed in the district before the fair,” said Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1).

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) speaks at the Hemisfair 50th Anniversary Announcement Press Event.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) speaks at the announcement of Hemisfair’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Temporary construction fences in the park outline plots of land designated for projects such as the Acequia Lofts and Civic Park. Historic buildings are being repurposed for retail and event space.

HPARC Director of Real Estate Omar Gonzalez believes the festival will bring in lots of people, enhancing the park’s profile as a must-see for visitors.

“It’ll bring a lot of people here,” Gonzalez said. “I think we could be a global model for how to do sustainable development.”

With the announcement of the festival, Hemisfair released its 2017 annual report. It highlights growth in visitors and events from the past year and elaborates on the changes to come in 2018.

Individuals interested in submitting their Hemisfair memories for the festival may do so here. Vendors interested in participating in the festival may apply here.

2 thoughts on “Hemisfair to Throw Itself a 50th Anniversary Party

  1. There is nothing left of the Fair….I use to ride the Monorail all the time….We need to bring that back…..Also bring back the skyrides…..

  2. Hemisfair Park is looking better and better, what a great job the local movers and shakers are doing. Now, if they can focus on the structure that binds it all together: the Tower itself. It has not aged well. The dark bronze glass and the tan concrete shaft was in style in the late 60s/early 70s, but appearance is everything. With so many good architects and designers here, I think they can refurbish the tower into something more appealing and modern, which would reflect well when contrasted with our great centuries-old structures (the Missions).

    There are many examples all over the world of age-worn structures being made new again with a cutting edge facade, entry, sheathing, etc. :the Glass Pyramids by IM Pei in front of the Louvre for example, or the glass and steel dome on the German Reichstag building.

    The Tower is a great legacy of the architect O’Neill Ford, but the city should create a competition for submissions to re-design it for future generations. Change the dark bronze glass to something amazing; there are glass manufacturers right here in the US that are creating cutting edge, sustainable glazing products that would be a show stopper. And cover up the boring concrete with, again, superb materials , man made or natural, that could add great beauty to the skyline. People recognize the Space Needle in Seattle precisely because its so cutting edge and unique. San Antonio deserves no less.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *