Sunday, May 22, 2016

Basil Fest!

On Saturday morning I headed out to Basil Fest at the Pearl Farmer's Market.  While the Farmer's Market is open every Saturday, Basil Fest is an annual event held in May.  This year the beneficiary of funds raised by Basil Fest was the Healing and Therapy Gardens of The Warrior and Family Support Center where I volunteer each week.

Basil Fest is one of two events sponsored each year by the San Antonio Herb Market Association.  Their other event is the Herb Market held in mid-October.  First stop was the Nature's Herb Farm plant sale and this year I picked up a very nice ruffled purple basil.  Nature's Herb Farm, with their huge operation located in San Antonio, supplies herbs for most of the state of Texas.

Nature's Herb Farm also grows succulents.  These wood succulent boxes were planted up and ready to go.  You might recognize the rusty tanks planted with prickly pear from my previous post on this plaza at the Pearl.

Expert talks on growing and cooking with basil were just one of activities available.  It was also fun for me to see this park full of activity on a Saturday since I'm mostly here on slower weekdays.  When I posted on this space last fall it was nearly empty and the contrast is quite striking.

During breaks I took a walk around the Pearl Farmer's Market held each Saturday morning.  With live music almost every week and streets closed off, it has turned into a huge event.

Chalking up the street is fun!

So are balloons!

Never tried goat milk soap.

I took a few minutes to drop into Melissa Guerra, one of my favorite shops in San Antonio.

Primarily a cookware shop, Melissa includes all kinds of fun and colorful items in her shop.

Now that's a sun hat!

Milagros in all sizes

Down the way, Adelante Boutique displays a "Y'all" pillow in the window.

An exquisitely handmade gown from Fiesta court is on display in another window.  Fiesta is our annual city-wide party held each April since 1891.  Over the years it has grown from a one-day celebration at the Alamo to events across the city for most of the month of April.  You can see more of these elaborate gowns on Pinterest here and look at the second row on this link to see the gown worn in the pageant.

Entirely hand beaded with crystal flowers and covered in sequins these dresses take a year to make.  Reflections make it tough to capture the incredible details.  Quite obviously the gowns are heavy to wear so they are mainly worn standing on floats in Fiesta parades where special platforms hold the train.  Scroll down to the second photo in this link to see.

Back at Basil Fest "voters" are lining up to sample basil dishes and vote with donations for their favorite .  Despite intermittent rain, we had a great turnout.

And the winner is Chef Tony from Fratello's Market and Deli!  Fratello's served a delicious basil filled cream puff and a sweet roll with pesto topping which were both excellent.  Their tough competition included cranberry bread with goat cheese/pesto spread from Chef Jenny Mattingsley of Oblate Theological Center and (my favorite) guacamole with basil and bacon from Chef Jacky of Broadway Daily Bread.

Basil Fest raised just over $750 for the Healing and Therapy Gardens.  That's Wendy Martinson, Executive Director of Returning Heroes Home, presenting the award to Tony.

Thanks so much to The San Antonio Herb Market Association for a great event and making my favorite gardens the beneficiary of your fundraising this year.


Pam Penick is set to speak at Festival of Flowers on Saturday, May 28th at 10:30 am.  She'll present "Hold the Hose", a presentation on saving water in our gardens.  After the talk Pam will have her latest book  The Water-Saving Garden and her first book Lawn Gone! available for purchase and signing.  Look for me attending Pam's talk, volunteering at the SAWS butterfly garden display, shopping for plants on the vendor floor, and/or taking part in the City-Wide Plant Swap!


  1. How fun! That gown (and the others at the link) are gorgeous!

    1. The gowns are quite amazing, they are quite unique to San Antonio and certainly I don't know of anything like this that is so easy to see in person.

  2. What a fun and delicious event. I learned a lot from this post. The gowns are amazing! Do they make new ones every year or do they re-use them?

    1. Because the theme changes annually, the gowns are new and different each year. They are made in a special studio which works on this project full time. The dresses are purchased by the families. If the family owns a business they will place them display like this and museums hold exhibits as well.

    2. I found a photo of Natalie Tips wearing the dress. She's in the second row on this pinterest link.

  3. You spent nice time Shirley. I love visiting farmer's markets as well but never been to Basil Fest :)
    I'd liked goat milk soup!

    1. Our town is fun and full of cool things to do, I hope you can visit sometime!

  4. It is great to see how the American people have come to love "market days". So healthy in so many ways and the wonderful "finds" that can be had in such places. Basil Fest - love that name (maybe because I planted my basil this week here on the patio! Jack

    1. The Pearl has an especially nice market which makes it even more fun. Our basil is already enjoying the heat, now if we could just get rid of the humidity.


Thank you for stopping by. To comment simply open the Name/URL option, put in your name or initials and skip the URL.