NIOSA Brings the Heritage of San Antonio Alive for Four Nights

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“A Night In Old San Antonio®” (NIOSA®) is a four-night festival in the heart of downtown San Antonio that celebrates the city’s diverse cultural legacy for more than 85,000 revelers annually--now in its 70th year.

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NIOSA is the top fundraiser for historic preservation in the nation and joyfully truly lives up to its motto as a “Celebration for Preservation.”

WHAT: “A Night In Old San Antonio®” (NIOSA®) is a four-night festival in the heart of downtown San Antonio that celebrates the city’s diverse cultural legacy for more than 85,000 revelers annually. Through the magic of 200-plus food, drink and atmosphere booths; 13 continuous live musical acts; children’s games; decorations; souvenirs; and costumed volunteers, NIOSA brings the city’s heritage alive in 15 areas: Mission Trail (early years of the San Antonio Missions); Arneson Theatre (amphitheater built in 1941 into the natural curve of the city’s river bank); China Town; Clown Alley; French Quarter; Froggy Bottom (cultural contributions of African-Americans); Frontier Town; Haymarket (produce and livestock markets near San Fernando Cathedral during the city’s Spanish Colonial period); International Walkway (showcases different ethnic groups that developed San Antonio’s unique heritage); Irish Flats; Main Street USA; Mexican Market; Sauerkraut Bend; South of the Border (Northern Mexico influences); and Villa España (Spanish and Canary Islanders heritage).

Solely sponsored by and benefiting the San Antonio Conservation Society (one of the nation’s oldest and most active historic preservation organizations), the 70th presentation of NIOSA will be held Tuesday through Friday, April 24-27, 2018 during the city’s Fiesta San Antonio® celebration. NIOSA is the top fundraiser for historic preservation in the nation and truly lives up to its motto as a “Celebration for Preservation.”

FOOD: What makes NIOSA unique from festivals around the world?

  • Food items are created, perfected, and prepared by NIOSA volunteers on-site and truly reflect the areas where they can be found. Many dishes can only be enjoyed at NIOSA.
  • All booths are run by Conservation Society volunteers; many are second or third generations of a family. Volunteers come from all over the country to work at NIOSA.
  • On the average, NIOSA revelers annually consume over 17,000 lbs. of beef; 11,000 lbs. of chicken; 5,000 lbs. of sausage; 3,000 turkey legs; 25,000 buns, rolls and bolillos; 30,000 tortillas; 2,000 lbs. of masa; 6,000 tamales; 15,000 lbs. of fruits and vegetables; and 1,000 lbs. of guacamole.
  • All musical acts play all night, every night, of NIOSA

WHEN: Tuesday through Friday, April 24-27, 2018. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and close at 10 p.m. Food sales and entertainment continue until 10:30 p.m.

WHERE: Grounds of La Villita National Historic District—the 18th century Spanish neighborhood that now serves as an arts village—bounded by the San Antonio River and Alamo, Nueva and Presa streets (approximately five acres).

SPONSOR: Founded in 1924, the San Antonio Conservation Society is one of the oldest and
most active community preservation groups in the United States. Beginning with efforts to prevent historic structures from being razed, the society has been responsible for saving most of the historic attractions that now make San Antonio one of the top tourist destinations in Texas, including the Rand Building, Maverick Building, Casa Navarro State Historic Site (home of José Antonio Navarro, one of only two native-born Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836), the Aztec Theater, the Fairmount Hotel and many buildings in La Villita Historic District, where it hosts NIOSA.

A stellar example of the Conservation Society’s significance and diligence is its decades-long campaign to conserve the San Antonio’s five Franciscan Missions Society members purchased everything from aqueducts and farmland to the bronze-medallioned door of the San José Granary in a– the only World Heritage Site in Texas. The Society brokered the establishment of a state park at San José Mission with the Catholic Church in 1941. In 1978 the Society was critical in the creation of the National Historical Park, and in 2006 launched the UNESCO World Heritage nomination that led to the Missions’ inscription in 2015—the only World Heritage Site in Texas.

WHO: NIOSA chairman Margie Arnold—elected by the Conservation Society in July
2017 as its Fourth Vice President/NIOSA Chairman—volunteers her time all year to plan and coordinate the event, assisted by four NIOSA vice chairmen (Sharon Hearn, Dee Wright, Jana Foreman and Glenda Duffin) and treasurer (Jackie Fellers)--also all volunteers. They oversee the other 10,000 volunteers who contribute more than 74,000 volunteer hours to make NIOSA happen.

PROCEEDS: Funds raised enable the Society to continue its 94-year mission of preserving historic buildings, objects, places and customs relating to the history of Texas and all that is admirably distinctive to the state. Out of the roughly $1.5 million netted annually at NIOSA, proceeds support restoration and preservation of historic properties, parks and waterways throughout the city and neighboring counties, as well as education and advocacy initiatives such as the Heritage Education tours, seminars, grants, scholarships, the resource library and its two house museums. In 2017 alone, NIOSA invested approximately $1 million in its community by using local entertainers and suppliers. In addition, NIOSA has paid to the City of San Antonio: $204,000 to lease La Villita; $314,185 for SAPD security and health, fire and electrical permits: and $200,000 to the La Villita Fund. This does not include money paid to local vendors nor the funds the Society pours into community programs.

TICKETS: Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Discount advance tickets and e-tickets are available at http://www.niosa.org and at locations around San Antonio as of March 1; visit website for locations.

INFO:    Visit http://www.niosa.org, contact (210) 226-5188, email niosa(at)niosa(dot)org or follow NIOSA on Facebook. NIOSA’s website at http://www.niosa.org includes a color-coded interactive map with touch screen navigation, list of foods, beverages and entertainment by area.

NIOSITAS: Conservation Society and NIOSA volunteers also stage NIOSITAs® (a private mini-NIOSA) in La Villita for conventions, meetings, festivals and any groups from 300 up to 10,000 to raise additional preservation funds. NIOSITAS commemorate the cultural influences of San Antonio with food and entertainment in a festive atmosphere. Guests not only enjoy NIOSITAs because they are so genuinely San Antonio but are pleased that the proceeds raised go toward historic preservation efforts in San Antonio and central Texas.

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In 2018, for the seventh year in a row, “A Night In Old San Antonio®” (NIOSA®) has earned one of the top levels of certification from the City of San Antonio based on its Green Events Ordinance sustainable policies for medium and large-scale events.

MEDIA: More comprehensive media materials are available on NIOSA news page. High resolution photos; recipes; B-roll; interviews with Margie Arnold; interviews with bilingual spokespersons; media passes; and more detailed entertainment/food schedules are available from Jeanne Albrecht at 210-392-9047 or jca(at)jeannebiz(dot)com.

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Jeanne Albrecht

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