Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Charreada: Mexican Rodeo in Texas is an absorbing and eye-opening book about
a relatively obscure but significant American cultural treasure. The paucity of
information about the gifted and knowledgeable contributors and the absence
of a bibliography and a system of citation notwithstanding, this is a unique and
engaging book that is worth owning.
San Antonio FRANK W. JENNINGS
San Antonzo on Parade: Szx Historic Festivals. By Judith Berg Sobr&. (College Station:
Texas A&M University Press, 2003. Pp. xiii-264. Preface, illustrations, map,
epilogue, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 1-58544-222-4. $29.95, cloth.)
This is the story of six festivals, the people who planned and attended them
and the city that sponsored them. It's about a movement of spectacle and merri-
ment that swept throughout Europe and the United States between 1866 and
1900. It's about universal human expression and the form it takes from, or gives
to communities. It's about the drama and the celebration of life wrapped in
patriotic bunting, marching bands, bright colors, lights, music, flowers, dance,
food, and drink. It's about people and what drives them, what separates them,
and what brings them together. It's about San Antonio on parade.
True to her promise to tell us about the complexities of a city's cultural histo-
ry, seen through her eyes as an art historian, Judith Berg Sobrd's critical training
pierces through the color and hype that swirls around a good party, and she
allows us to see San Antonio's social and political history unfurl from within the
bunting, the music, the flowers, and the lights. She takes us behind the scenes
and brings us eye to eye with San Antonio's multicultural dynamic, and the
dance done and the politics practiced between Hispanics, blacks, Italians,
French, Germans, Catholics, money, men, women, benevolent societies, military,
labor unions, city government, business and politics, and how these either came
together, or made feathers fly, in the process of planning a civic event
As we follow the Fourth of July, Diez y Seis de Septiembre, Juneteenth,
Columbus Day, Volks Fest, and Battle of Flowers parades down San Antonio
streets, we begin to sense the subtle significance of each group's parade routes
and how power, politics, and influence determined each. We begin to sense the
subtle significance demonstrated by who was included and who was left out to
march in each parade, and how those alliances shifted from parade to parade,
speaking volumes about who was scratching whose back and why.
San Antonio's festivals were the magnets that drew all of its citizens together.
With the exception of the black community, whose participation was present but
remained at the edges of the celebrations, San Antonians in their festive garb
and best behavior rubbed elbows, drank, danced, laughed, and chatted with
each other, and for those magic moments neighborhood, economic, and ethnic
boundaries disappeared and everyone was a close friend. It was that way then
and is that way now.
Sobrd's book tells a vibrant story about people and their behavior and is
indeed a social history of San Antonio. Furthermore, for those wishing to
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed July 22, 2014.