April 23, 2013

The Yesterdays of Yesterfest

by Angela Castillo

The first Yesterfest comes to town when I am eight years old. I wear a long dress and ankle socks and have my first pony ride. Women bend over spinning wheels as sunlight, filtered through the leaves of the river park trees plays on busy hands. Elderly gentlemen show off vintage weapon collections and impress small children with tales of youthful adventures. My brothers and I witness an honest to goodness cowboy and Native American war where many casualties ensue. My youngest brother will not be consoled when his favorite cowboy perishes, even when the downed hero brushes himself off and walks away.

Fast forward several years. I am sixteen. My friends and I travel in a station wagon borrowed from a parent. The wind is in our hair (the vehicle has no air conditioning) and we are singing along with Spin Doctors on the radio. When we arrive at the fair, we stroll around the booths, munching on roasted ears of corn and savoring our teenage independence.

A few years later and I find myself at the Yesterfest again, accompanied by the man who will someday be my husband. This is one of our first dates. We bring my sisters, who fill the day with knowing glances and good-natured jokes at our expense. My (then boyfriend) purchases a dubious looking handmade necklace for me, while my sister shows up an entire troop of boy scouts with her knot tying skills.

Now, 25 years later (yes, do the math and you will have my age) I look forward to sharing Yesterfest every year with my children. The fair has now moved to Main Street and in the surrounding streets and runs from 10:00am to 6:00pm on the fourth Saturday of April (this year the 27th). Streets full of vendors offer tantalizing tables full of gifts and homemade treats, vintage and modern.

Vendors line the streets downtown during Yesterfest.
 Photo courtesy of Joleen Smith. 

Hours of adventures have been planned for children, including a petting zoo, Ms. Poppy the Clown, and Magical Mystical Michael. Families can also explore a real Native American Tepee and watch a reenactment of a gunfight with authentic Wild West weapons.

Young and old will enjoy Native American ceremonial dances.
Photo courtesy of Cherie Haines.

Authentic gunfights are staged
throughout the day during Yesterfest.
Picture courtesy of Cherie Haines.
A pioneer village will be set up for everyone to explore, as well as a chuck wagon cattle-drive display and a Buffalo Soldier encampment.

Learn how food was cooked in the "olden days."
Picture courtesy of Cherie Haines.
The live music options are a music lover’s dream, with festivities kicking off on Main Street, Friday night at 6:30 with the El Camino Real Music Festival and street dance. Bastrop Brewhouse will also have a ticketed concert featuring Billy Joe Shaver. Two stages will be set up on Main Street for Saturday and will feature several types of music throughout the day, from folk to Celtic to gospel.

Bands of every type will be playing on two
 stages all throughout the day at Yesterfest.
Picture courtesy of Cherie Haines. 

How can you get the most out of Yesterfest? Dress yester! Everyone is invited to find granny’s old gingham dress and bonnet, or shine up grandpa’s best go-to-meetin’ shoes.

Picture courtesy of Cherie Haines.

Bring sunscreen and plenty of water. Come early to get a good parking spot. People are encouraged to leave pets at home, simply because the gunshots from the shows are loud and might scare them.

For more info about Yesterfest, including a full schedule of events, click here.

What are your best memories of the Yesterfest? How many years have you and your family attended? We would love for you to share your experiences in the comments below! 


  1. I loved seeing the rattle snakes & their handlers - so exciting & scary at the same time. Walking on stilts - secretly hoping I could stay up longer than my sister & friends. Making butter with my Girl Scout troop. Bringing my boyfriend early on in our relationship & holding hands as we walked toward the river. Oh & who could forget the bagpipes! How we loved to hear them coming from the distance! So many memories over the years!

  2. Oh, I SO want to go to this! I'm gonna ask Hubby to take me & the boys!