Of the many events that we attended here in El Valle this winter, the one we found most interesting was Viva La Onion! – the Weslaco, Texas Onionfest. The Weslaco Onionfest celebrates the “world famous” Texas sweet 1015 onion that was developed here in Weslaco by Texas A&M. The name comes from the recommended planting date, and the onion has an incredible sweet flavor that goes well with the local cuisine. This year (2011) was the 22nd year for the festival. We noticed that they were selling 50-pound bags of the 1015 onions for $12!
There were a number of things to do at the festival; the events included live music (including a mariachi band and also an Elvis impersonator), kids areas, an onion-eating contest, a car show, food vendors, arts and crafts, and (the highlight of the day) the Andalusian and Azteca dancing horses. This was my favorite part of the festival. The riders were adults and youth from the local area; the costumes and the horses were beautiful and watching them perform to the live music (provided by the mariachi band) was quite impressive.
We spent a few hours at the festival roaming through the vendor booths and enjoying the music; but then stopped to watch the amazing horses. The most popular food served during the day was the blooming onions, made with Texas 1015 onions. We did not have a chance to eat at the Festival because on our way there we had stopped in at Gonzales burgers in Donna for an early lunch. If you have ever eaten a Gonzales burger, you can understand why we were not hungry at the festival! Gonzales burger is a well-known local landmark that serves burgers—just burgers (well, you can choose fries or onion rings as a side, or a combo of the two). It is a place everyone should visit at least once. There is no sign, and you will not find it listed anywhere—so, ask around and someone will let you know how to get there. My favorite part of the directions was, “turn left on Silver and look for all the cars.” If you decide to visit Gonzales burgers, plan on at least an hour and a half. The normal process is to find a place to park (if you are lucky, one will have opened up nearby), then get in line to place your order. They serve canned soda, so either wait to get your soda until your food is ready or pay for 2 up front.
After you order, you take your number and stand around a while waiting for a place at a table to open up (there are tables inside and out). Eventually you will find a place to sit, and then you finish the wait for your food (the longest I’ve seen is an hour and 20 minutes total wait after you order). The hamburger patties are huge, and they grind their own meat fresh every morning. They cook them fresh on the grill while you wait. I suppose the wait is not near as long once all the “Winter Texans” have left the area (if they are open year round; I was not able to find out for sure–but many said they do take a break/vacation).
Anyway, it was a perfect day here in the Rio Grande Valley. The excellent burgers at Gonzales, the Onionfest that included the dancing horses, and—because it was such a hot day—before leaving the Onionfest we purchased a limon flavored popsicle that was quite cooling and refreshing. It is an excellent destination for the entire family.