Victoria mayor joins hundreds in Mexican procession

About 250 people, including Victoria's mayor, ride in the Cabalgata de los Caballos, the Ride of the Horses, to the San Bernardo Mission in Guerrero, Coahuila, for the third annual watermelon festival.

GUERRERO, Coahuila - Riding alongside more than 600 people and 250 horses, Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong and his counterpart from Guerrero, Coahuila, led the way to the International Watermelon Festival in Mexico.

The festival is one of Mayor Francisco Garcia Castells' efforts to bolster the economy and recreational activities for almost 2,000 Guerrero residents.

Garcia Castells invited Armstrong and Texan historians to visit the town's 18th century Spanish mission sites and discuss becoming a sister city with Victoria based on their shared heritage.

Participants in the ride, called the "cabalgata," traveled for two hours from a ranch named La Candelaria, where the watermelons are harvested, to the San Bernardo mission site in Guerrero, where the festival occurs.

Fourteen-year-old Watermelon Queen Areli Garcia Martinez took photos on her smart phone while riding in a burro-pulled buggy.

Subtle characteristics in attire showed the fusion of Mexican and American cultures. A woman carrying the Mexican flag wore a rhinestone-studded, pink camouflage baseball cap with the word "Cowgirl" written on the front. The stallion that Garcia Castells rode was purchased by his father from R3 Quarter Horses Co. just outside Cuero.

When they reached the town square, riders took a moment to sing the Mexican national anthem before heading to the mission site.

Watermelon sculptures carved by locals for the art contest sat perched on a table in the dome-covered part of the mission believed to be the church. Outside the mission, the crowd cooled down with watermelon margaritas while young women in colorful folklorico dresses danced to traditional folk songs.

The festival ended with both mayors planting olive trees in front of San Bernardo, symbolizing the beginning of a sister city relationship between Guerrero and Victoria. This union could mean a number of economic and tourism opportunities for both towns.

For more about the two towns' shared heritage and future opportunities, click here.