It happens one weekend out of the year. The Laredo Energy Arena is transformed into a Mexican mercado where over 200 exhibitors from over 60 Mexican cities converge to sell their native wares at the Laredo International Sister Cities Festival in Laredo, Texas.

The 2018 dates are July 13-15. This festival attracts over 30,000 attendees throughout the three-day weekend.

Admission is free all weekend long. Attendees are encouraged to bring their reusable bags to haul away their colorful finds. As you walk into the Laredo Energy Arena the scent of homemade authentic Mexican eats fills the air. Aside from your reusable bag, make sure to bring your appetite. The concourse of the arena houses everything edible. You’ll find Mexican candies, tacos and tostadas being cooked on-site, tortillas, machacado and salsas all available for purchase.

The arena floor is where you’ll find aisles of authentic Mexican products. Exhibitors from Nuevo Leon, Guanajuato, Coahuila, Jalisco, San Luis Potosi and more are ready to greet you and show off their native wares such as talavera, clothing, shoes, leather goods, hand-crafted jewelry, accessories and more.

Should you need to take a break from shopping around, feel free to take a seat in front of the stage and watch a live cultural performance from one of the visiting sister cities. Past performances have included various types of ballet folklorico, singers and native dance stylings.

Perhaps this is the year you won’t be able to plan a vacation to Mexico, this is your opportunity to take home some souvenirs without leaving Texas. Go ahead and buy the sombrero, poncho, and the salsas.  Your friends will never know you were able to buy authentic Mexican goodies while stay-cationing in Laredo, Texas.

The Laredo Energy Arena is located at 6700 Arena Blvd., Laredo, Texas 78041.

Festival hours are:

Friday, July 13: 11am to 8pm

Saturday, July 14: 10am to 7pm

Sunday, July 15: 10am to 5pm

After you’re all shopped out, save some time on your agenda and head on over to the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course. The par-72 layout sprawls across 270 acres of rugged south Texas landscape. The terrain is covered with 100-year-old mesquite trees and two vast arroyos, which are incorporated into the layout. No need to pack your golf clubs, sets are available for rent at the pro shop. Golfing can build up quite an appetite. The clubhouse is home to Las Islitas Grill where you can enjoy a meal along the banks of the Rio Grande.

Whether you need assistance in planning your trip down to Laredo or are just looking for more information about the Laredo International Sister Cities Festival, feel free to call the Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-361-3360.