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.
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.
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