My Thoughts Exactly
Texas Abounds in amazing, unusual
By LEIGH ANN WHIDDON
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.