A lotería host calls out numbers to players.

The arrival of summer in the border regions of Texas is felt in warm breezes, heard in live music, seen in the neon glow of a Ferris wheel, and smelled­—and eventually tasted—in food prepared by abuelas. Following all of these signs will lead you to a kermesse.

A kermesse or kermes is a festival or bazaar hosted by a Catholic church to raise funds from summer through late fall. Similar to county fairs or trade days, they are held outdoors and admission is typically free and open to anyone. It’s a great way to enjoy a unique cultural experience while indulging in myriad food and games.

Chilindrinas are vegetarian pork rinds topped with vegetables, sour cream, cheese, and hot sauce.

A long string of white tents house games of skill or chance like the lotería (bingo) with prizes. In another row of tents, you’ll find traditional Mexican foods like corn-on-the-cob, raspas, chilindrinas (a large flour-based chicharrón topped with shredded cabbage, tomato, sour cream, and hot sauce), tacos, enchiladas, and gorditas (thick corn tortillas stuffed with meat, veggies, and salsa). Wash it all down with a refreshing fruit agua fresca or cold beer while enoying a live performance by matachínes (Native American dancers) or a mariachi band.

A live performance at a kermesse at the San Elizario Presidio.

If you’re traveling to the border in the coming months, check out one of these kermesses:

July 19: San Judas de Tadeo, El Paso

Aug. 31-Sept. 1: Our lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, Seguin

Sept. 21: Saint James, Seminole

Oct. 6: St. Mary of the Miraculous Medal, Texas City

Oct. 12-13: Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Port Isabel

Oct. 19-20: St. Laurence Catholic Church, Sugarland

Oct. 26: Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Brownsville

Late October: Sacred Heart Parish Kermesse, Edinburg

The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

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