Event chair estimates attendance boost at Saturday’s Texas Onion Fest

    WESLACO — Daryl Smith says it’s going to be a banner year for Texas Onion Fest.

    WESLACO — Daryl Smith says it’s going to be a banner year for Texas Onion Fest.

    The longtime event chairman and member of the Weslaco ISD Board of Directors expressed optimism about the upcoming festival topping previous attendance records.

    In support of as much, he points to last year’s turnout, which numbered around 11,000 spectators, coming in April and therefore missed the attendance of Winter Texans who usually leave by the end of March.

    Slated all day Saturday, the 28th annual event that observes the sweet Texas onion being developed in Weslaco is now in position to draw the remaining Winter Texans in the area.

    “We really feel strongly that we’re going to surpass last year’s (attendance),” Smith said before estimating that as many as 13,000 people could fill the Mayor Pablo G. Peña City Park, the site of this year’s event, on Saturday. “It’s going to be one of our biggest years ever, especially with the country music draw.”

    He was referring to headliner and Nashville country music star Johnny Lee hitting the Hermes Main Stage at 9:30 p.m. Opening for Lee will be Bo Garza at 8 p.m. Also performing are local musicians such as the Weslaco High School Mariachi Pantera, which hits the stage at 10 a.m.; then Hot Rodz at 11:30 a.m., the Texas Sweethearts at 1 p.m., Starlight Quartet at 2:30 p.m., Ache de Barrio at 4 p.m. and Epi Martinez and Friends at 5:30 p.m.

    On the Frost Bank Stage will be entertainment that includes Donna’s Line Dancing at 11 a.m., the ever-popular Onion Eating Contest at noon, magician Oscar Muñoz at 2 p.m., a presentation from The Jank Gourmet BBQ Sauce creator Lamar Jones at 3:15 p.m., and karaoke at 5 p.m.

    What’s more, the dancing horses of Rancho Caballo de Pura Raza Azteca returns with 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. showings. And amateur and professional chefs will try their hand at whipping something up for the Onion Recipe and Salsa Contest.

    “Another thing we offer this year is doubling the size of our arts and crafts area, which we named the 1015 Market, and I think that’s going to be a big draw,” Smith added.

    Among the main attractions at the event are the onion blossoms, which the event chair explained will receive their own designated area. It’s action that was taken after observing long lines form behind onion blossom vendors in previous years. There will be 23 food vendors to make room as well.

    Helping organize these efforts are members of the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce staff as well as an Onion Fest committee with 30 volunteers who are led by Smith. Together with help from the business community and local school district, 300 volunteers are currently lending a hand.

    “We’ve got some great volunteers who are putting together a good event, and the cooperation not only from the city but the community and the school district is really good,” Smith said. “We’re really fortunate to live in Weslaco.”

    Laura Espinoza, marketing director for the chamber, credited the Onion Fest sponsors for their support.

    “We are very grateful to our sponsors that make it all happen,” Espinoza said. “It means a lot that they want to get involved in the community, and we’re glad we can offer them an opportunity to do that.”

    For more information about the event, call the Weslaco chamber at 956-968-2102, visit www.weslaco.com, or look for the official event guide inserted in today’s edition of the Mid-Valley Town Crier.