Stroll down the calm, shady streets of the historic King William neighborhood, and you’ll be transported to the 19th century by the sight of beautifully restored, Victorian-era homes and well-tended gardens.  You won’t see many people about, maybe a few neighbors in their yards and a handful of tourists with walking maps in hand.  But one Saturday in April each year, the scene changes drastically as a teeming swarm of approximately 40,000 visitors overrun the neighborhood (normally home to fewer than 250 households and businesses) to celebrate the King William Fair.


That Was Fun – Now Clean It Up

The Fair closes at 6:00 p.m., and, for 49 years, the King William Fair Committee has been committed to returning the neighborhood to its normal, clean and exquisite self before noon of the following day.  As attendance has grown exponentially, so has the cleanup process.  Back in 2011, the Fair accepted the added challenge of working within the guidelines of a new City of San Antonio Green Events Ordinance, an initiative which seeks to minimize the environmental impact of large-scale public events. 

Meeting the Goal

The 2011 King William Fair met the Green Events Ordinance guidelines, thanks to the diligent and enthusiastic support of the neighborhood association, volunteers, vendors and sponsors, and we have continued to do so.  In preparing for the future, the Fair has made plans to shrink environmental impact even further, with the long-range goal of reaching Zero Waste Management. 

In order to reach these desired outcomes, Fair staff and volunteer leadership are examining every area of their operations and learning from the best practices of other festivals across the country. 

Meeting The Future

We must examine everything the Fair buys, uses, consumes and disposes: electricity, publicity materials, transportation, infrastructure, communications, signage, food and drink containers and tickets.  Some we have direct control over; others come under the purview of the vendors, subcontractors and governmental agencies.  A few to consider:

Compost: We will set up a system for gathering compostable food scraps from vendor prep and consumer compost at special recycling stations.  We could also require vendors to use corn-based compostable service ware.  In addition, we will put a plan in place to take excess unsold food to a food bank or a shelter.

Recycle: Staffing our recycling stations with volunteers who would facilitate proper sorting and prevent cross contamination.  Our “Green Team” or “Recycling Ambassadors” would oversee recycling stations and with signage would impart information to Fair guests about how, where and what to recycle.

Reduce Vehicular Mileage: We continue to promote carpooling, biking, walking and use of public transit.  We even team up with a group of cycling enthusiasts and Freetail Brewing Co. to offer bike valet service.  The guests were able to ride right up to an admission gate and feel safe about leaving their bike for the duration of their time at the event.  Our partnership with VIA Park and Ride provides a valuable service.


The King William Fair gathers many people to raise money for worthy causes, rallies community spirit, celebrates the arts and perpetuates our cultures.  Changing policies and processes that have been in place for decades requires the event, its stakeholders and participants to adopt a “Culture of Possibility” and seek out new knowledge with fresh commitment to sustainable practices.  In addition to global benefits, we will realize several immediate rewards:

Minimizing waste improves the efficiency of our event and reduces costs as we divert recyclables and compostables from the landfill. 

A successful program creates positive change within our community and increases environmental awareness.

Our efforts to “green” our event will weave ecological stewardship and sustainable processes through the next generation of merriment. 

It saves money, improves our relationship with Mother Earth and, after all, it is the right thing to do!

- Zet Baer, Fair Manager