World Heritage Festival Celebrates San Antonio’s Missions With Events Through Sunday

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The World Heritage Tour de las Misiones Walk participants begin their walking tour as confetti explodes in the air.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

The World Heritage Tour de las Misiones Walk participants begin their walking tour as confetti explodes in the air in 2017.

People know the story of the Alamo. But many don’t know about San Antonio’s other missions and how they connect to the Battle of the Alamo, said Alamo CEO Doug McDonald on Wednesday.

“What we know about history is that history never happens in a single moment,” McDonald said. “It’s always built on top of the shoulders of other history.”

The City of San Antonio's World Heritage Office kicked off a five-day celebration of San Antonio’s missions on Wednesday with a press conference with remarks from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Council members Rebecca Viagran (D3) and Roberto Treviño (D1) and Father David Garcia, rector of Mission Concepción and director of the Old Spanish Missions.

The five-day festival incorporates all five of San Antonio's Spanish colonial missions — which are UNESCO World Heritage sites — and ends with a celebratory Mass on Sunday, Sept 9 at Mission Concepción.

On Saturday starting at 10 a.m., visitors can enjoy family-friendly activities and watch weaving demonstrations inside the Contact Station at Mission Espada. There will also be guided bike rides and walking/running tours for people who want to explore the missions, starting at 8 a.m.

Mission Pachanga finishes Saturday's activities with local vendors, food trucks, and live music at Mission County Park. Nina Diaz, Money Chicha, Bidi Bidi Banda, and Santiago Jimenez Jr. are scheduled to perform at the event, and admission is free.

Because of thunderstorms in the weather forecast, the festival’s schedule is being adjusted, World Heritage director Colleen Swain said. Thursday’s Sunset Picnic at Mission San Juan Farm has been canceled, while Friday's showing of Restored by Light at Mission San José will be rescheduled for later in the fall, she said. While Saturday’s bike ride and Pachanga remained on the schedule, the organization will be monitoring the weather, and those events could be canceled if the weather is bad.

McDonald said the missions represent a long period of history, not just the Alamo.

“They know that because that story goes around the world,” he said.

Viagran’s district includes four of the missions. She grew up around Mission Concepción, she said, and served as part of the delegation that went to Bonn, Germany, to accept the UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2015.

“Being [in Bonn], hearing the ambassadors from all over the world say, ‘Yes, your missions represent the story of the Americas’ is a source of pride I will never forget and continue to share with everyone,” she said.

The Alamo, originally known as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, is the birthplace of San Antonio, she added.

“The story of Mission San Antonio de Valero is the story of San Antonio,” she said. “It’s also the story of letting everybody know there’s only one World Heritage site in Texas — and it’s in San Antonio.”

Visit worldheritagefestival.org for more updates and a list of scheduled events.

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