Ten decorated mermaid statues were unveiled Sept. 16 as part of the main event of Mermaid Aqua Faire following the downtown Mermaid Parade.
Arts Commission members prepped the unveiling of the mermaids on a platform in the center of Plaza Park where the statues remained covered. Prior to the unveiling, attendees enjoyed lemonade, live music and free T-shirts at the festival.
Local organizations including the Hays County Food Bank, the Heritage Association of San Marcos and multiple student and youth organizations dressed up in seashells, nets and scales to march through the streets.
The artists unveiled the statues, revealing a variety of inspirations such as local history to river conservation. Each statue has a unique design. One is said to change colors while another features the biology of the river. One statue is even holding a fish taco.
Jamie Shelton, local artist, said she was one of 60 to apply to paint a statue. When she was chosen, Shelton decided to adorn her mermaid with bright blue and green colors and creatures from the river.
“She is composed of all of the biology of the river, so the flora and the fauna,” Shelton said. “She has turtles on her shoulders, her eyebrows are blind salamanders and her cheeks are sun fish.”
Shelton’s goal was to remind viewers how important river conservation is.
Ruben Becerra, arts commissioner and the statue project coordinator, said the project intends to bring visitors to town to see the statues. However, he would primarily like to see the city reminded of the importance of river conservation and the value of community.
“It will help our long-term branding, and create awareness and appreciation for this beautiful community,” Becerra said. “Like making sure you make decisions that don’t pollute our river or create settings that will erode our river.”
Other festival guests included Dahlia Woods, arts commissioner and owner of the Dahlia Woods Gallery. Woods said she was determined to see the mermaids presented this month at the festival and hopes they will positively influence the city.
“It’s a symbol of the preservation of the river, the environment and the history,” Woods said. “The river is used by thousands of people so we really need to protect it and its endangered species.”
After the parade and festival wrapped up, the mermaids were taken around town and are now waiting for permanent locations.