MERCEDES, Texas (ValleyCentral) — This week ValleyCentral takes you on a stroll to the home of the mighty tigers. Located between Weslaco and La Feria, it is the queen city of the Valley. Founded in 1907, Mercedes is often recognized as one of the oldest cities in the Rio Grande Valley. Home to over 16,000 residents, Mercedes is only four miles away from the Progreso–Nuevo Progreso International Bridge. From a shopping center to the more rural attractions, Mercedes has something for everyone.
Home to the last drive-in movie theater in the Rio Grande Valley, and one of the few remaining in Texas, Mercedes has the WesMer Drive-In. First opened in the 1940s, the drive-in has been operating for nearly 80 years. The 1980s saw the theater close for a decade before it reopened again in the 1990s. Charging 10 dollars a car, guests can see the two newest movies releases in one night. Taking a walk downtown area, the city lays the Historic District of Mercedes. Here is where the old and new combine, restored buildings are home to newer businesses. A popular attraction for the city is the five-foot boot statues that are placed around town. Thirty of them in total! Famous for being the home of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo. Guests come dressed in their boots and hats to watch the events and have fun at the carnival. Coming from all around Texas, the Rodeo and Livestock show is a major attraction for western fans. Those venturing into the city will surely enjoy all that Mercedes has to offer.
Keeping the craft alive–Camargos
Since the 1980’s Camargo’s has been providing custom-made boots to RGV residents. Henry Camargo, has been keeping the old-fashioned way of boot-making alive. Crafting boots for celebrities like George Strait, Willie Nelson and more. Popular in the northern part of the United States, Camargo’s boots have seen lots of publicity from many customers. Calling it something he loves and why he continues to craft boots. Everything is hand-made with close attention to detail. Wallets, belts, holsters and boots are the things that the Camargo’s have crafted in their many years of business. Keeping to the original style of crafting, Camargo does not mass produce boots or use computers to create his images. According to Camargo, it takes a week to craft two boots. Beginning with creating the mold of the foot to adding the finishing stitches, everything is done in Camargo’s workshop.
“I want to have a satisfied customer when they buy my boots, I try to do that as much as I can,” said Camargo.
Texas sized-Formacio Pizzeria
Originally from Mexico, owner Israel Formacio says the idea of owning a pizzeria first started 20 years ago during his time of working in the restaurant industry in New Jersey. Raised in the state and working his way to the top, introduced Formacio to pizza making. Starting as a dishwasher he gathered all the skills that would allow him to eventually open his own business. Operating for 10 years now in Mercedes, the pizzeria is offering all kinds of flavors to the customers. Home to the 18′ inch tiger-sized pizza and the 30′ inch Texas-sized has made the pizzeria famous. According to Formacio, he was inspired by the state saying of ‘everything is bigger in Texas” Pizzas that need their own table and a special box. Not only serving pizzas, but customers can also order a variety of pasta, salads, wings and more. “I’m so thankful to the people that can come over here, we do everything to the people gets happy, gets satisfied with the pizza we give to them,” said Formacio.
Blend of culture–Moran’s
Family-owned and operated Moran’s Pizzeria has menu items unlike any other. Run by Samuel and David Moran, along with their co-associate Omar Vasquez, the pizzeria has been blending the American and Mexican flavors for 5 years. Famous for their creation of the taco pizza, the pizzeria is attracting those with a taste bud for adventure. While they also provide the original styles some of their more creative pizza’s have included the Hot Cheetos pizza and the Taco pizza. Having a second location in Donna, the first is located in Mercedes. Having the support of the community and seeing all the excitement has made the owner’s happy and proud of their work. According to Vasquez, the pizzeria offers not only a place for the community to eat but also where they can hang out. “I think that’s what brought us to this idea that the people are very involved in the culture here,” said Vasquez.
Editor note: Quotes were in Spanish and have been translated to English.