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Jesús Baeza has lived in San Antonio for about 20 years, but he’s only been downtown a handful of times.
But on Saturday, Baeza and his two sons, ages 6 and 9, braved the heat to attend the inaugural Creekfest at the newly restored sections of San Pedro Creek.
The sustainability-focused event offered live music, food trucks and booths with organizations like the San Antonio Botanical Garden, the Edwards Aquifer Authority, Texas Master Naturalists, and Keep San Antonio Beautiful.
For Baeza, the event’s local focus was a welcome surprise. Typically, most people think of downtown as being only for visitors, he said.
“You never think about it local,” he said. “For us, it’s like, let’s go to New Braunfels, let’s go to Austin, let’s go camping at Texas state parks, but never really downtown San Antonio because it’s nothing but tourists.”
Carrie Brown, the River Authority’s public art curator for San Pedro Creek, figured a “couple hundred” people showed up on Saturday for the event, which ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brown moved to San Antonio from Austin two years ago to oversee permanent and temporary art installations at San Pedro Creek Culture Park, which opened in May 2018.
“We really want to be a venue for the arts community,” Brown said. “Another organization could come in here and use the park to put on their own events. Another artist could come in and install their temporary work that’s maybe being shown at another arts venue in town.”
At Creekfest, children who attended got a chance to make turtle-shaped crafts out of decorated paper bowls and homes for solitary bees out of aluminum cans and hollow bamboo shoots. River Authority employees taught them about low-impact design features like rain gardens and bioswales and how they can keep polluted runoff from degrading local waterways.
At one booth, a group of Alamo Heights Junior School students, who recently competed in the Destination Imagination problem-solving challenge, passed out “seedlets” made from native plant seeds embedded in colorful wafers made of recycled paper pulp. They hope to see their seedlets planted all around San Antonio.
“It’s really hot in Texas, so it’s better if we use native plants that can handle the heat instead of plants that can’t handle the heat,” said Roberto Perez-Puente, one of the students who participated.
Brown said the River Authority aims to continue holding Creekfest in early June to commemorate World Environment Day, held on June 5 every year, and to grow the event to keep the focus on sustainable practices.
“We’ll be back here next year and hopefully bigger and better,” Brown said.