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Cotulla’s popular annual Independence Day festival that was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic will return this year on a larger scale, according to city staff who have confirmed the event will take place over two days.
Scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, July 3 and 4, the festival is being moved to the La Salle County Fairgrounds this year, a more spacious area that allows crowds to spread further apart if there are virus-related concerns over health and safety, according to Main Street Program Manager Patsy Leigh.
In previous years, Cotulla’s July 4 festival has been held at Veterans Park downtown with the La Salle County Courthouse as its backdrop and featuring a fireworks show over the downtown historic district.
Some of those aspects of the festival may no longer be possible to organize or to obtain clearance from county government officials over crowding concerns and the risks of releasing powerful pyrotechnics over densely clustered wooden buildings and sites of historic interest, Leigh said.
One portion of the festival will still be held downtown, as the annual patriotic parade travels from Mars Drive in the Las Palmas business park to Main Street and proceeds as far as Carrizo Street and the Frank Newman Middle School, passing the city park along the way. This year, the parade will be held Saturday evening, July 3.
On Sunday afternoon, July 4, the county fairgrounds on Hwy 97 will open with food and beverage booths, live music and other entertainment.
Among the performers scheduled to take the stage in the Fair Pavilion are David Lee Garza and Jorge Moreno. A local band is also booked to play.
The traditional evening fireworks show will be launched from the fairgrounds this year, Leigh said.
City Hall staff confirmed this week that Mayor Javier Garcia and City Administrator Larry Dovalina expect a return to normalcy in the community to be tied to the number of local residents who have had their coronavirus vaccines. That number, according to the city on Tuesday, has now topped 7,000 and is expected to rise by summer, allowing the city to reopen its AB Alexander Convention Center for private functions and lay plans for the Independence Day festival.
The city’s present emergency order and the restrictions that councilors agreed upon for public health and safety will expire on Saturday, April 24. City officials have not indicated whether they expect to renew the order.
“We continue receiving a lot of calls regarding reservations for the convention center,” Dovalina told councilors at their April 8 meeting, and indicated that he believes a general reopening of sites should be tied to vaccine progress. “There has been a concern over the virus, people renting the facility, drinking and then forgetting about their masks… There are concerns over the spread of disease.”
When asked by Councilor Eloy Zertuche on April 8 how many people in the community had been vaccinated, Dovalina said he had received numbers as high as 11,000 doses being given, but that La Salle Fire Rescue & EMS Chief Daniel Mendez had cautioned that those tallies included people who had come from other cities to Cotulla for their shots.
“We want to see forty to fifty percent of the city population vaccinated,” the city administrator said. “We do not want to contribute to the spread of disease.
“I believe by the beginning of summer, we should be okay,” Dovalina added, and revealed to councilors that city staff had begun making plans for the July 4 festival.
“Altogether, this is a solution to a lot of concerns that people had over health and safety issues,” the Main Street Program manager said of the festival plans last week. “The city wants to go ahead with the festival because there is a lot of demand in the community to celebrate. We couldn’t do this last year, but we believe that we have reached a point in the coronavirus response and recovery process that allows us to plan an event like this.”
All those planning to take part in the parade should call the Main Street Program office at (830) 879-4166 for an entry form and details.