The Legend of Sirena, a native Tonkawa who was doomed (or tricked) the day she met a magical catfish, is a story that is dear to the residents and tourists who come to Salado. Troy Kelley’s bronze sculpture of the love filled and resilient Tonkawa mermaid and the catfish that tricked her are an icon and one of the most important landmarks in this Central Texas town. Jackie Mills, a local playwright, published the legend in a book, Sirena of Salado. She also incorporated it into the Legends of Salado play, performed every summer for over 25 years.
A new generation of Salado and Sirena enthusiasts are hoping to honor the Legend of Sirena and the creators of this local legacy by holding an annual Sirena Fest & Mermaid Parade. Tiffany Schreiner, along with several other local business owners and deep believers in the magic of Salado have organized an event that will bring whimsy as well as educational elements to children of all ages on Saturday, October 6.
The goals of Sirena Fest & Mermaid Parade are to highlight the legacy of Sirena in Salado, educate children on creek habitat and conservation, delight kids of all ages with the magic, whimsy, and artistry that the Village of Salado has to offer, and finally to raise money for a local non-profit each year. This years charity for 2018 is Variety’s Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children. Funds raised will go towards an all abilities playground in Central Texas. www.varietytx.org. Sirena Fest is working with the Salado Habitat Initiative to create a space for butterflies, pollinators, as well as to delineate the line between safe places for wildlife and the visitors who come to enjoy Salado, specifically Pace Park.
This festival is aimed entirely at children and families, hoping to encourage children to think outside the box, to be brave, kind, and resilient, and to dream wild imaginative dreams, and fulfill them. In the words of local stonecarver Bob Ragan, “Imagination creates reality” and that is exactly what this festival aims to do. Schreiner founded Sirena Fest in hopes of bringing light to the eyes of children as they discover a deeper sense of their own imagination on the creek banks of Salado’s dreamy landscape.
The Mermaid Parade will begin at 11am October 6 in Pace Park and proceed a half mile to the festival grounds beside Salado Creek, near where the famous bronze sculpture of Sirena resides. Sirena Fest will run 11:30-5 p.m. and will include educational booths and mermaid themed artistic fun unlike any other. There will also be face painting, various engaging activities, an array of food and a group of performers from Austin, Texas.
And of course, there will be real live mermaids!