Cornyval: an annual festival in Helotes, TX

This weekend I took the kids to Cornyval, an annual festival in Helotes that began in 1966. Fortunately for us, the big thunderstorm we had the night before cleared out and though the ground was a bit muddy, we had great weather. This year Cornyval was held from May 2nd- May 5th. Admission was $10 a person (Sunday was free admission), but children under 12 were free all weekend. Each day had special prices for carnival rides. Thursday was $20 wristbands for unlimited rides. Friday was $1 day (all rides were $1). Saturday was 2 for 1 rides. Sunday was $20 wristbands. We went Saturday, and arrived just after the parade ended but before the crowds hit the festival. Additional information can be found at https://cornyval.org/

Entrance to Cornyval

Before we spent time on the carnival rides, we roamed the grounds to check out the various vendors and food stands. We just wanted to get an idea of what to plan for our lunch and see if there was anything of interest to buy. I did find things that I liked, but I was sticking to my budget for the weekend.

Some of the booths we found were Scentsy candles, engraved wooden cutting boards, hats, jewelry, toe rings, clothes, face painting, henna tattoos, petting zoo, pony rides, and more. Some of these vendors are also found at the Helotes Market that is held the first Saturday of each month.

We decided to hit the rides before getting food (and boy am I glad we waited…..). The majority of the rides are designed for young children. This makes Cornyval a perfect place for families with toddlers/preschoolers/young elementary students. I loved the fact that they had a Mini Himalaya for younger kids (I love the regular Himalaya ride).


The Mini Himalaya

There are a few rides that older children and teens would enjoy. The first ride we did was the Ferris Wheel. The four of us (the kids, Grace’s friend, and me) were able to ride in one car for the ride. This ride was pretty high up, which gave me the chance to get some pictures of the grounds from way up high. I actually enjoyed this ride. I wish it could have been a little longer. We went around 2 times before getting off. However, I am VERY glad we did not stop at the very top. I am not so sure I would have enjoyed that too much.

After the Ferris Wheel, I convinced Matthew to go on the Beach Party ride. He had been on this ride when we were at the Strawberry Festival, but didn’t enjoy it much. I figure it was because he was on the ride by himself. Anyways, the four of us finally got on this vomit inducing ride. I am not sure what on earth I was thinking when I convinced Matthew to go on it. It started off fun. But then it got a little too crazy for my liking. There was a lot of up and down, spinning, and turning. The spinning was FAST (fast enough to make your face feel as though it is being pulled back). If this thing had gone on any longer, I think I would have hurled. By the time the ride ended, my world was spinning. I literally had to sit in our cart for a few minutes to get my bearings again, get my stomach to settle down, and to keep myself from losing my breakfast. I kid you not, it took most of the day for me to begin to feel normal again.

Beach Party

After that ride, I was DONE with joining the kids on any other rides. Fortunately, the few other older kid rides that were available, Matthew didn’t feel like riding. Instead, he went through the Magic Maze with Caitlyn and Big Bamboo with Grace.

After rides we headed over for food. Besides the regular food one can find at a carnival, there were plenty of food booths from local vendors. We decided to get our lunch for one of them. Picking from chicken on a stick, turkey legs, steak kabobs, fajitas, sausage, chicken and waffles, fruit, fried donut holes, and much more, we had a big decision to make. I wound up getting a steak kabob that I shared with Matthew. Grace got chicken and waffles (no surprise there). Caitlyn got sausage with sauerkraut. We all got some amazing fruit cups. The fruit was fresh and sweet! Exactly what we needed. We enjoyed our food under the covered pavilion listening to live music. And of course, we had to get some kettle corn to take home.

We finished up our day watching pig races. The host of the races was quite humorous. Watching these little pigs race around the “track” to get an Oreo at the end was fun to watch. We watched 3 different races, but not once did the pigs our section was supposed to cheer for win.

Cornyval was a fun way to spend a few hours on a Saturday. We didn’t attend all events at the festival. There is a rodeo each night, a 5K run, a pageant, mutton bustin, live music, and more. Plus there is the parade on Saturday. I am sure that in the evenings Cornyval is much more crowded. It is just large enough to be able to spend a couple of hours and enjoy different events, but just small enough to be able to have your fun and head home knowing you still have time to do other things. Be sure to check out Cornyval next year!

Hanging out on the Ferris Wheel

Poteet Strawberry Festival

This weekend we took another drive out to Poteet, but this time it was to attend the annual Strawberry Festival. It started out as a drizzly, grey day, but it slowly began to dry up and with it, the humidity arrived. But we made the best of the it with the bipolar weather South Texas has. Besides, I was on another mission to purchase more strawberries from Anachey Strawberries, which was one of the first things we did.

So glad Anachey Strawberries were at the festival. Stocked up on strawberries for the next week.

Anyways, back to the festival….. This annual festival is held in the heart of Poteet, a small town outside of San Antonio. This year it was held from April 5-7. If you purchase tickets online, they are $15 per person, $20 at the gate. Children under 13, military (active, reserve, national guard, and retired with a valid I.D.) are free. Carnival wristbands are available for $35. Grounds parking is free (though there are some off grounds places that do charge for parking, but trust me, there is plenty of grounds parking).

Besides the carnival, and of course being able to purchase some delicious strawberries (we purchased some from Anachey Strawberries a couple of weeks ago, check out the blog on that trip) there are many other fun things to do and see during your time at the festival.

Since we spent the day out there with Matthew, we did spend most our time at the carnival. Most carnival rides were between 4 and 6 tickets. Tickets are $1 a piece. We just bought a couple of sheets of 20. All food and rides require tickets.

Speaking of food, you will find the typical carnival foods. And while they are not at all good for you, they sure are good to eat. Throughout the day we had strawberry nachos (cinnamon chips with strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and almonds), funnel cakes, fajita tacos, and of course Chuck had a corn dog. Sure hope walking around the grounds today helped with burning off some of the calories.

After Matthew rode some rides we took in some of the various shows found throughout the grounds. We really enjoyed watching an illusionist/comedian. He did some great slight of hand tricks and kept the audience laughing. He included a lot of the children from the audience in his act. Matthew was given the opportunity to check out the rings to make sure there were no cuts or cracks. He was fascinated with the many tricks. I am sure he will try to attempt some at home.

There are also plenty of vendors to shop at. You can find everything from wooden furniture, to toys, to jewelry, to local honey, and much more. You can find something for just about anyone. In addition to shopping, food, carnivals, and such, there are also several concerts throughout the day. We had hoped to watch Aaron Watson, but we got tired of the humidity and left. But the fact that the concerts are included in the $15 ticket fee is pretty awesome.

Strawberry wine and baked goods can be purchased here. The strawberry nachos are yummy!

Now for your history lesson: According to the StrawberryFestival.com website, the festival began in 1948 when the Poteet Rotary Club organized the event to provide returning World War II veterans a reason to return to the farms. The club also wanted to improve the pack of berries for buyers.

The purpose of the festival has changed over the years. Because strawberries are an endangered crop, the festivals main purpose now is to promote the strawberries grown in Poteet. The festival also awards scholarships to students in Poteet with the festival proceeds. Because the festival is now a tourist attraction, the local Poteet economy is boosted during festival time.

The nice thing about the festival is that you can spend as little or as much money as you want. It can be a tight budget event by just paying the ticket fee and maybe getting some water. Food and carnival rides don’t have to be purchased. There are plenty of shows and places to window shop that money isn’t necessary. If your budget is a little more, getting some tickets to ride some of the rides and get some carnival food can add to your experience.

We enjoyed the day at the Strawberry Festival and would definitely recommend that you attend it next year! Make plans for the first or second weekend in April to spend the day out there.