Shrimp Festival - 2012
A year has gone by and the Aztec calendar disk has rolled full circle since the last shrimp festival. North America's economic confidence game remains in an agnostic paralysis, which is likely the reason for 2012's modest turnout. Crowding the pavilions, puestos and kiosks closer together might have fooled some people into believing there was a healthy stream of activity between them, but the conspicuous absence of the untanned tourist and the ease of finding a place to park told the real story.
Just like any other place that's been stunned into stillness by economic collapse, San Felipe repeatedly fails to climb onto a plateau of commercial comfort and no amount of boosterism, whitewashing, cheerleading or atmospheric castle-building has been able to give the town a leg-up. Tourists continue to stay away in droves, compelled by negative press reports, their own austerity, a declining shrimp and fishing industry, rising prices, and highway detours that could reduce an Overland stagecoach to toothpicks.
Despite the hardships, the weight of tradition seems to be unstoppable. In fact during these hard times, it seems to grow more ponderous, as if it has become a receptacle for our adversities.
This year's festival obviously had the civic belt pulled in a notch or two but all the usual suspects were in attendance, plus a few new ones. Maybe it was a sign of the times but a precedent was struck by including a military recruitment tent. Perhaps the trauma to the local economy has pruned the prospects of young people enough that a military career might seem a logical alternative.
Things are not all that desperate yet. Although the vendors of hats, blankets and T-shirt no doubt wished for more activity, the food pavilions saw a lot of business. This flies in the face of the universal herald of rough times, which is an empty stomach. Judging from the evidence, we have a long way to go before the civic belt-tightening begins to affect our personal wardrobe.
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