CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Whether it was first-timers or the even's long-lasting fans, the return of Buc Days and the Stripes Carnival made for an eventful start to locals and visitors alike.
“I like to be around the people.“ said Drusilla Rice, a Corpus Christi senior who spent much of her time just watching others from afar. “I’m sure that they want to be among people to you and it’s exciting to see the children and the laughter — it’s really nice.”
The event does come with changes in comparison to what carnival-goers may remember from 2019. Most-notably, and practically a standard during the COVID-19 Pandemic — masks are required in all areas, a spokesperson for the event said.
In reality, the amount of those wearing face coverings fluctuated. Much like Texas businesses when like Governor Abbott lifted the mask mandate in March — there was little enforcement for those who didn't.
Nevertheless, locals like Amy and Chris Slaughter, who were celebrating their 27th wedding-anniversary in an off-the-cuff date at the fair with their family found the return of the event much-needed.
"I think a lot of people are just tired of being cooped up and it’s like, 'What can we do?' This allows families to come together and have a good time," Amy said. "(The carnival today) really means friendship, togetherness — celebrating your city — all of those and more, really."
Those who would regularly work and travel from carnival-to-carnival took a hit from last year.
"The only state in the country that had fairs last year was South Dakota and we have contracts in all three of the big state fairs there, so we’re lucky to work those, but that’s all we did last year," said Cole Reeves, owner of Noah’s Way Exotics, a petting zoo from Hico, TX.
Although Reeves has encountered some cancellations in 2021 too, he said Buc Days marks his second carnival since the year began. As a result, he's glad to get back into the swing of things.
“We’re rusty. Our animals are rusty," he said. "We got fat during quarantine — animals got fat during quarantine, but we’re out here sweating, ready to go again, it’s beautiful weather, nice sea breeze.”
Buc Days continues through Sunday, May 8.
Beginning Saturday, May 1, the carnival will be a site for COVID-19 vaccinations. those who receive one also get free entry. For a detailed list of all of the events this year, visit their website.