Calling all local chefs! The San Antonio World Heritage Office is looking for culinary ambassadors to represent the city's diverse food traditions for a two-year term jam-packed with domestic and international festivals and media opportunities.

The opportunity is part of Alamo City being named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2017. Tucson is the only other U.S. city with the designation, which recognizes each urban center's distinct food culture, from local know-how of traditional techniques to the widespread use of indigenous ingredients.

Applications for the program will be accepted now until 11:59 pm on May 31 and are limited to working local professionals well-versed in various cuisines. Up to six chefs will be selected to reflect the distinct flavor of their hometown.

"San Antonio is a beautifully unique and diverse city that is the result of a confluence of cultures over time,' explains Colleen Swain, Director of the World Heritage Office, in a release. "We still see those influences today, especially in our city's gastronomy, and we want to see that reflected in the chefs who are selected to represent San Antonio as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy."

Previous chef ambassadors have included some of San Antonio's leading lights, including Lilla Bernal (Culinary Institute of America), John Brand (Silver Ventures), David Caceres (La Panadería), Kelly Daughety (Ox Hunting Ranch), Jesse "Chef Kirk" Kuykendall (Hotel Havana and Milpa), and Stephen Paprocki (Chef Cooperatives).

"This has been a great experience. I am truly blessed to be part of the ambassador program," said Paprocki, the San Antonio representative at the 2022 Pueblos del Maiz Festival in Tucson. "I have learned about other sustainable culinary practices from traveling, and I've met some amazing chefs and new friends throughout this process."

Paprocki will share his experience during a question-and-answer session at Chef Cooperatives, 11911 Crosswinds Way, on March 6 at 11 am. Aspiring ambassadors can learn details about the program and the application process. More information, including selection criteria, can be found online.

Once selected, the chefs will soon prepare for a whirlwind two years. Previous ambassadors have globetrotted through other UNESCO Creative Cities such as other creative cities such as Alba, Italy; Merida, Mexico; Tucson, Arizona; Queretaro, Mexico; and Gaziantep, Turkey.

The Expedition School/ Facebook

Kayak and paddle board rentals make a splash at 2 San Antonio lakes


This spring, the fun at Elmendorf Lake and Woodlawn Lake parks is set to be a whole lot splashier. The San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department has approved a license agreement for non-motorized watercraft rentals with Austin-based The Expedition School, bringing rentable canoes, single and tandem kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards to park visitors.

The newly approved agreement also incorporates programming such as adaptive paddling, health and wellness programs, camps, and professional water safety courses. Visitors can look forward to activities catering to a wide array of abilities.

Founded in Austin in 2006, the outdoor education institution devotes itself to providing its clients the best and safest quality outdoor education experiences. With its expansion to San Antonio, The Expedition School is excited to offer the same to all Alamo City residents.

That includes providing adaptive paddles for intellectually and developmentally disabled, blind and visually impaired, and deaf populations. The specialized gear attaches to watercraft to support the paddle's weight, eliminating stress on the shoulders, back, and joints. The adaptation allows people with limited strength or endurance to enjoy previously inaccessible water sports.

"We are thrilled to see people of all abilities kayaking and enjoying outdoor activities at Woodlawn Lake Park and Elmendorf Lake Park," said Homer Garcia III, Director of San Antonio Parks and Recreation, via a release.

But that's not The Expedition School's only nod to inclusivity. The two locations at Woodlawn Lake Park and Elmendorf Lake Park will also serve as outdoor schools for youth. The school's team-building events will allow groups to build camaraderie, trust, and communication skills while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the parks.

The school is also committed to environmental stewardship. Since its inception, it has picked up over 10 tons of trash and four tons of recycling in and around Austin's Lady Bird Lake. Every program The Expedition School provides is dedicated to leaving the area cleaner than it was found, ensuring that park visitors can enjoy pristine surroundings.

"The Expedition School is more than a kayak rental vendor," says Garcia. "They are community partners and environmental stewards who will provide accessible recreational opportunities and educational programming for our residents."

Though Parks and Recreation did not share a hard launch date for the rentals and programming, the action is expected to kick off this spring. Locals can keep up with developments on the Parks and Recreation website.

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San Antonio had the 3rd largest population increase in the U.S., new Census report says


We already know things are changing in Texas at large, but how about San Antonio? Now, six out of the 15 most populous cities in the United States are in the Lone Star State, and the Alamo City had one of the largest numeric population increases in the nation. The U.S. Census Bureau's latest findings add more validity to reports that less people are interested in living in the city proper, and are seeking residence in the suburbs.

San Antonio added nearly 18,900 new residents between July 2021 to July 2022, bringing the city's total population to nearly 1,473,000. That put San Antonio at No. 3 on the list of numerical increases (as opposed to proportional growth). For scale, the report lists Austin at 1.0 million. Fort Worth took the top spot with its gain of 19,170 residents, and Phoenix, Arizona earned No. 2 after adding 19,053 to its population count.

The top 10 cities with the largest numeric population increases are:

  • No. 1 – Fort Worth, Texas
  • No. 2 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 3 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 4 – Seattle, Washington
  • No. 5 – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • No. 6 – Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 7 – Port St. Lucie, Florida
  • No. 8 – Cape Coral, Florida
  • No. 9 – Houston, Texas
  • No. 10 – Georgetown, Texas

New Braunfels also earned a nod in the report for being the No. 13 fastest growing city in 2022, and crossing the 100,000 population threshold. The city grew by 5.7 percent, adding up to 104,707 residents.

In an overall analysis of the 15 largest American cities in 2022, San Antonio ranked No. 7. Houston was the only Texas city that ranked higher at No. 4 with its population of over 2.3 million people. Dallas came in at No. 9 with a population of just under 1.3 million, and Austin barely made it into the top 10 with a population of 974,447 residents. Fort Worth ranked outside the top 10 at No. 13, with a population of 956,709.

The top 10 most populous American cities are:

  • No. 1 – New York City, New York
  • No. 2 – Los Angeles, California
  • No. 3 – Chicago, Illinois
  • No. 4 – Houston, Texas
  • No. 5 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 6 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • No. 7 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 8 – San Diego, California
  • No. 9 – Dallas, Texas
  • No. 10 – Austin, Texas

The report additionally discovered that housing inventory skyrocketed by 1.6 million units between 2021 and 2022. Texas had the third fastest housing growth with a rate of 2.3 percent, versus Utah, which had the fastest growth at 3.3 percent.

San Antonio didn't make the cut in the list of the 10 most populous U.S. metro areas (as opposed to the cities, themselves), but Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked No. 4, and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land ranked No. 5.

The full report can be found on census.gov.

The Disney Immersive Experience is now offering sensory-friendly viewings

A whole new world

The Disney Immersive Experience at Lighthouse ArtSpace San Antonio has found a way to be extra inclusive for Disney fans.

Starting on Saturday, June 17, there will be three sensory friendly viewings of the Disney Immersive Experience (you can purchase tickets for the specific sensory friendly performances here).

So what does a sensory friendly viewing entail exactly? For starters, the volume of the show is reduced for a more comfortable viewing experience for guests with special needs.

Other accommodations for the sensory friendly viewing include comfortable gallery lighting (and there will be no blackouts like there are in the regular showings), reduced guest capacity, sensitivity warnings at certain potentially agitating moments in the show, and quiet areas outside of the gallery (where the show takes place) so guests can take a break if the noise is too overwhelming.

After the first sensory friendly viewing on Saturday, June 17, the remaining two sensory friendly performances will take place on Sunday, July 16, and Sunday, August 13.

Every sensory friendly viewing will take place at 10 am. Make sure to select the correct time slot when booking tickets (the sensory friendly performances are also marked 'sensory show' on the online booking calendar.) The sensory friendly viewings are also priced exactly the same as the regular viewings.

The Disney Immersive Experience will be housed at Lighthouse ArtSpace until August 13, 2023, and tickets are still available for regular showings as well as the sensory friendly viewings.

:Inclusion is important to us with all of our offerings, but all the more so with Immersive Disney Animation, which is truly an exhibit where everyone should feel welcome," says Lighthouse Immersive producer Corey Ross via release. "These viewings reduce the sensory output of the show to offer a relaxed environment and judgment-free zone where the wonderful worlds and characters of Disney Animation Studios can be enjoyed by all.”

Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Musical moments are certain to fill the air in the Alamo City for the next several days. Catch songstress Erykah Badu in concert or catch a Ryan Adams & The Cardinals show. Fiesta Noche del Rio promises ample dance and musical performances for the entire family to enjoy. Check out the top seven things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a full list of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, June 8

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals in concert
Americana music stars Ryan Adams & The Cardinals return to Austin for a live show at The Espee. Fans of the “Now That You’re Gone” band can expect the same hits with a new line-up of Adams, Brad Pemberton, Chris Stills, Daniel Clarke, and Don Was. Get seating information on Ticketmaster.

Friday, June 9

Broadway in San Antonio presents Riverdance
Irish dancing takes center stage at Majestic Theatre. Audiences will enjoy a production complete with traditional music and Riverdance’s famous style of energy and rhythmic expression. Shows are scheduled through June 11. Explore ticket availability at broadway.com.

Tobin Center for the Performing Arts presents Dreamgirls
Free movie nights continue at The Plaza at the Tobin Center with this week’s screening of the 2006 film Dreamgirls, starring Jennifer Hudson. Lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged for a more comfortable viewing experience. A full bar and concessions will be available onsite. Admission to this screening is free and open to the public.

Alamo Kiwanis Club presents "Fiesta Noche del Rio"
The Alamo Kiwanis Club hosts the Fiesta Noche del Rio series for another summer season at Arneson River Theatre. Highlights include mariachis, flamenco guitar, dancing, costumes, food, and more. Get tickets and a full series schedule at fiestanochesa.com.

Saturday, June 10

Briscoe Western Art Museum presents Masoud Yasami's cloud painting workshop
Painter Masoud Yasami engages in conversation and guided instruction at this special evening of art. Registration includes supplies for the session and the chance to glean expert guidance on painting clouds. This event is open to participants of all skill levels. Sign up for the session at briscoemuseum.org.

Sunday, June 11

National Geographic Live: Cosmic Adventures with Tracy Drain
Get lost in scientifically-backed stories of the cosmos as told by aerospace engineer Tracy Drain. Guests will learn about Drain’s engineering challenges and scientific discoveries from the Kepler mission, as well as exclusive accounts of the Psyche mission. For ticket information visit tobincenter.org.

Erykah Badu in concert
Erykah Badu, widely known as the “Queen of Neo Soul,” performs live in concert at the AT&T Center. The voice of chart-topping songs such as “Bag Lady” and “Didn’t Cha Know” makes a stop in San Antonio in support of her Unfollow Me tour. She will be joined by Yasiin Bey. Get more information on Ticketmaster.

Erykah Badu
Photo courtesy of Erykah Badu
Erykah Badu will play in San Antonio on June 11.