Palomino Fest has been a popular attraction in Southwest Texas since it was first launched 23 years ago, but this year’s festival seems to have shifted the Labor Day weekend event into an entirely higher gear. Four-day attendance swelled to more than 26,000 people, a 20 percent jump over last year and a sure sign that festival organizers have delivered an iconic fundraiser that is here to stay.
To put the attendance into perspective, on Sunday alone a staggering 11,000 people made their way to the Uvalde County Fairplex. The trip to the venue was reported to take almost an hour from downtown Uvalde due to the heavy traffic, which marked a 44 percent increase over the same day last year.
Festival coordinator Wade Carpenter is spot on in pointing out that the weekend is a boon to the local economy, resulting in full hotels and restaurants brimming with visitors.
The ultimate beauty of Palomino Fest is that the people who attend obviously enjoy themselves (they keep coming back in larger numbers) and at the end of the day, Southwest Texas Junior College gets to deposit a large check in its account for student scholarships. This year’s take was $25,000, which brings to $275,000 the total generated for deserving students since Palomino Fest began.
In addition to Carpenter, there are dozens of volunteers who help breathe life into the event, which included an hour-long parade downtown, rodeo, car show with 91 entries, carnival rides and of course the music, with 15 different bands taking the stage over the long weekend.
At the center of the music is the festival’s namesake Los Palominos, Uvalde’s own Grammy-winning performers who have lent their band’s name and talent to help create this popular Southwest Texas festival.
Another element that deserves attention is the law enforcement community that staffs Palomino Fest to help ensure the safety of patrons. Their presence was especially important this year as some social media posts alluded to potential violence. In response, dozens of lawmen patrolled the festival, which no doubt helped boost attendance to a new record.
We congratulate Carpenter and the many volunteers, law enforcement and SWTJC for the ongoing success of an event that has become the place to be on Labor Day weekend.