Texas abounds in amazing, unusual festivals

My Thoughts Exactly

Texas Abounds  in amazing, unusual

By LEIGH ANN WHIDDON

Lifestyles Editor

Summertime is here and it  is time to be thinking about  vacations.

You are probably thinking  about a Caribbean Cruise, or  a trip around the world, but,  in reality, you’ll probably  never make it out of Texas. I  know I won’t. Don’t despair,  there are lots of neat festivals  in Texas, not ipnly during” the  summer, but all year long.

One festival that really  piques my interest is Marshall’s Fire Ant Festival in  October. There is a Tour de  Fire Ant Bike Race, an ugly face contest (do you win or lose?) and a parade.  There is also — hold onto  to your hats — a fire ant calling contest and a fire ant round-up. How do you call a fire ant? What do you call a  fire ant? If anyone knows,  please let me know.

Most of the festivals  revolve around food: strawberries, black-eyed peas, oatmeal and watermelon, to  name a few.

Every year, 7,000 people  make a pilgrimage to Be tram for the Oatmeal Festival. Organizers say when the  festival began in 1978, it had  two purposes: get oatmeal  back on the map and spoof  the chili fests.

For the cook-off oriented, there is an oatmeal cook-off.  (I imagine the instant, microwaveable type is disqualified).  Instead of chili peppers,  boiled okra is in abundance.  The Oatmeal Festival calls itself a family event and the  children have not been left  out. All kids are invited to  participate in a grasshopper  parade.

If you are a watermelon  fan (and what Texan isn’t)  you have your choice of festivals. Hempstead has a watermelon festival, but they must  not want anyone to attend  because they provided  almost no information (not  even the date) to the Texas  Festivals and Events  Association.

However, in Luling, watermelon activities abound at  the Luling Watermelon  Thump held every June. There are melon-eating contests, the World Championship Seed Spitting Contest and champion melon judging.

Like any good festival there is a queen coronation, a rodeo, parade, barbecue, carnival and street dances.

Other fruit-oriented festival are the Parker County  Peach Festival and the  Pasadena Strawberry  Festival.

The peach festival, held-in  Weatherford, has a bike ride,  three-on-three basketball,  and food vendors. Oh yes,  there is plenty of cobbler and  ice cream to go around.

In Pasadena, strawberries  reign supreme. There is mud  volleyball, dancing horses,  elephant rides, cook-offs,  games, beauty pageants and”  loads of strawberries.

Feeling piggy? Shenandoah hosts a swine fest every  year. The description is limited —- games, children’s  booths, non-stop music and  entertainment. Still, it  sounds like it has real possi bilities. I suppose they also  have hog-calling contests  and probably plenty of good  food.

Texas is rich in history  and lots of festivals have a  historic theme.  Laredo is the home of the  Princess Pocahontas Celebration every February. Pocahontas is presented the key  to the city during the day-  long celebration each year.  Again, the description is limited. but it sounds interesting.

New Boston holds Pioneer  Days in August. (They call it  Pioneer Days, but it only  actually lasts one day.)

On this day there is a  pancake breakfast courtesy  of the volunteer fire department, entertainment, parade  and a street dance. It is held  in conjunction with the local  rodeo.

Grapevine remembers the  pioneers during Main Street  Days every May. The downtown area takes on the  town’s look circa 1850. There  is living history, a stew co test, festival foods, a tractor  contest and, other activities.

Davy Crockett has his day  in the sun at the Davy  Crockett Pioneer Festival in  Houston every September.  There are citizen reenactments, black powder demonstrations, folk life  demonstrations, and continuous professional entertainment (whatever that  means.)

George West has an  interesting-sounding festival,  the George West Storyfest.  (And it rhymes, too).  The festival only lasts one  day and features storytelling  and musical entertainment  on the courthouse square.  There are also craft demonstrations, storytelling workshops and children’s games.  The day ends with ghost stories after dark and then a  dance.

So, from fire ants and oatmeal to history, there is plenty of entertainment  possibilities right here in  Texas.