San Marcos Like a Local

10 Unique Events in San Marcos, Texas, That You Should Experience

April 5, 2018

Add unicycles to football and you get the Stupor Bowl in San Marcos, Texas San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

San Marcos, located halfway between San Antonio and Austin, is known for its lush landscape, friendly people, delicious cuisine, winding rivers and Honky Tonk bars. And though it’s a wonderful place to visit any time of year, several events give you added incentive to make the trip. Sure, there are a few quirky options (like the Unicycle Stupor Bowl or Mermaid Festival, for instance) but these strange festivities are part of what makes the San Marcos culture so rich and interesting. Here are some of the area’s most unique annual events that you should experience at least once in your lifetime.

1. The Unicycle Football Stupor Bowl

You’ve probably seen a game of football in your life, but you’ve never seen it like this. The sport is American football played entirely on unicycles with a "flackle" (flag and tackle) variation. The Unicycle Football League currently has eight teams that play every Sunday from August to March, concluding in the Stupor Bowl in April to decide the champion.

2. The Martian Arts Festival

The two-day, family-friendly Martian Arts Festival in April celebrates art, individuality and creativity in all of the best ways. It takes place at High Rock Ranch, a gorgeous retreat just outside of San Marcos, and it features local food trucks, vendors, live music, film, art, a silent disco and so much more. And there are also options to camp if you really want to make a weekend of it.

3. Sacred Springs Powwow

Revel in the joys Mother Nature provides at the annual Sacred Springs Powwow each October. The event is held by the Indigenous Cultures Institute, and celebrates the culture, arts, traditions and languages of the native population known as the Coahuiltecans. Upwards of 5,000 people attend each year to experience exciting performances from more than 100 dancers, traditional drummers and singers. Explore the grand market with artisan booths and authentic Native American food and drink.

4. The Mermaid Festival

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The Mermaid Festival’s annual parade brings the mystical sea creatures to life. San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

The Mermaid Festival takes place in September every year, and it includes a full weekend of mermaid events and activities with the Mermaid Society SMTX. The event kicks off with a festive gala complete with glass-bottom boat tours, live performances, delicious bites and specialty cocktails. Creative attire is encouraged. For the rest of the weekend, guests can roam through the free festival, watch the Downtown Mermaid Promenade—a grand parade through downtown—and take photos with the participants dressed as mermaids.

5. The Texas Water Safari

The Texas Water Safari is known as the toughest boat race and the world, and only the toughest paddlers out there dare to participate. Challengers are given 100 hours to paddle 260 miles from Spring Lake in San Marcos to the small shrimping village of Seadrift on the Texas coastline. The first official race was held in 1963, and it occurs annually on the second Saturday of June. Finishers are rewarded with bragging rights the size of Texas. Spectators can enjoy the start of the race in San Marcos, particularly as the boats travel through Rio Vista Park.

6. Texas Independence Day

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Celebrate Texas Independence Day in San Marcos at Zelicks Ice House. San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and you’d better believe that this celebration lives up to the hype. The annual event celebrates the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, and it takes place at one of San Marcos’ most iconic venues—Zelicks Ice House. Every year, people from around the region come together to raise a glass to the great state of Texas, dance to live music, eat authentic slow-cooked brisket, shop at local vendor booths and more. You can also participate in a round of chicken poop bingo, and if you want to know what that is, you’ll have to find out in person.

7. Summerfest

There’s no better place to celebrate America’s birthday than in San Marcos’ Plaza Park. The Fourth of July festivities of Summerfest feature live performances, activity booths, a children’s parade and costume contest, local food vendors and drink purveyors, and (of course) a grand fireworks display after sunset.

8. First Saturday Birding Hikes

San Marcos is known for its wildlife, and these local hikes are a must for bird lovers. Led by local photographer Stephen Ramirez, the hikes wind through different locales on the first Saturday of every month. You’ll have the chance to see various species of waterfowl, woodpeckers, hawks, finches and songbirds—and learn how to take excellent photos to remember them by.

9. Art Squared

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Art Squared features original works by local artists. San Marcos Convention and Visitor Bureau

San Marcos has its fair share of farmers’ markets and art vendors, but Art Squared truly showcases the creativity of local artists. The open-air market takes place every second Saturday from March to December, and it features completely handmade, original artwork shown by the artists themselves. You’ll also find live music, free yoga and tai chi demonstrations, kids activities and more. Plus the local farmers’ market takes place on the adjacent street, perfect for when you're ready to grab a bite to eat.

10. Sights & Sounds of Christmas

Take in millions of Christmas lights along with holiday entertainment at the annual Sights & Sounds of Christmas in San Marcos. The festival featuring a live-action town of Bethlehem, an ice skating rink and free pictures with Santa will help put you in the holiday mood. Kids of all ages will enjoy the carnival rides, and you will find plenty of food vendors offering everything from turkey legs to kettle biscuits. Two stages will offer musical performances, and a free petting zoo makes it fun for even the youngest kids.

Written by Sarah Strohl for RootsRated Media in partnership with San Marcos CVB.