Friday, August 31, 2012
Get ready for fall’s lineup of festivals in the Piney Woods
From mid-September to early November, revelers can celebrate arts, trains, roses, peanut butter, insects, diversity and more. That’s right. It’s about to be autumn festival time in East Texas.
From mid-September to early November, revelers can celebrate arts, trains, roses, peanut butter, insects, diversity and more.
That’s right. It’s about to be autumn festival time in East Texas.
More than a dozen festivals over a two-month stretch give East Texans plenty of reasons to trek the region and sample tastes and charms from Hopkins County to Huntsville.
Events kick off in earnest the second full week of September when the Hopkins County Fall Festival takes center stage in Sulphur Springs from September 12-15. This festival enters its 43rd year with attractions such as the Hopkins County Idol talent competition, all planned for the county’s civic center and grounds.
On Saturday, September 15, the Hopkins County Fall Festival will face competition from the Sherman Arts Festival in Grayson County and the Pittsburg ChickFest. The ChickFest features booths, games, street dancing and food. Meanwhile, an art show and sale, woodcarving, live music and arts and crafts vendors are scheduled at the Sherman Municipal Lawn as the Sherman Arts Festival celebrates its 30th year.
Huntsville rings in its 2012 Fair on the Square on Saturday, October 6, lasting from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The annual first Saturday in October fete has brought arts, crafts, collectibles and food to Huntsville’s historic downtown square for more than three decades. Fair on the Square is also noted for its antiques shopping, live music, beer garden and free admission. Kettle corn, barbecue, lemonade and homemade root beer floats are also on tap.
In Northeast Texas, Mineola holds its Gypsy Market 2012 featuring a second annual battle of the bands with a $2,000 cash prize. The event begins the night of Friday, October 5, with a free karaoke party in downtown Mineola. The band battle is set for the next day, October 6. A hot dog eating contest and vendors are also planned.
Marshall celebrates a multitude of things throughout the year, from Stagecoach Days to Christmas decorations. On October 12-13, the downtown area comes alive to celebrate a pest and music. The city has held its annual Fireant Festival for 30 years, but now it is called The Boogie Woogie Fireant Festival to promote the city’s stance as the “birthplace of boogie woogie” music. The city completely buys into the event with red fireant-dressed mascots walking the streets, Tour de Fire Ant bike rides up to 45 miles, and the ugly face-making contest.
The following week heralds three of East Texas’ oldest and most well-known festivals.
Gilmer’s East Texas Yamboree is so special the city has a “Yam-Cam” that provides 24-hour, year-round views online of downtown Gilmer, the epicenter of this unique event that celebrates the sweet potato, also known as a yam. This year’s celebration will be unique, as the 2012 Yam Queen, Mary Paige Linder, is the first Yam Queen from Gladewater. The Yamboree features an ever-growing carnival, a livestock show and sale, the Queen’s Coronation Pageant, a barn dance and more. The festival takes place all over Gilmer, from downtown to the Gilmer Civic Center and adjacent exposition facilities on the city’s north side. Upshur County Chamber of Commerce officials say the Yamboree, also considered a community homecoming, attracts more than 100,000 people each year. The Yamboree kicks off in earnest with the Children’s Parade (Upshur County schools discontinue classes that Friday morning to allow students to participate) on October 19, and the fun lasts through Sunday, October 20.
Meanwhile, Tyler celebrates the four-day Texas Rose Festival from October 18-21. The event, which started in 1933 as a grand ceremonial coronation much like an operetta, celebrates the city’s rose industry, which accounts for about one-fifth of the U.S. commercial rose industry. The annual Rose Parade kicks off the festival which includes the coronation ball and a “Concert in the Park” by the East Texas Symphony Orchestra. There are also art, car, doll and toy shows. The festival also has a Facebook page.
“Recognized by many as the state’s most elegant and beautiful community event, the Texas Rose Festival annually draws many thousands of visitors to East Texas. Each festival is the culmination of a year’s planning and countless hours of work by hundreds of volunteers,” according to the festival’s website.
If you attend the Texas Rose Festival’s Saturday events, you might feel inclined to drive 15 miles south of Tyler to Kiepersol Estates Winery in Bullard. The winery now hosts an annual Harvest Festival and Grape Stomp to celebrate Texas Wine Month. Grape stomping, vineyard tours, live music, blind tastings and competitions are just a sample of the activities. Events for kids, including a sandbox and cork art activity, are also available, though you must be 21 or over to consume alcohol.
The Festival of the Arts in Edom, a community between Tyler and Canton on Farm Roads 314 & 279, is not as old or famous as the Yamboree or Rose Festival, but it attracts a different sort of eclectic crowd. About 40 years ago, potter Doug Brown set up his pottery studio in downtown Edom and encouraged other artists to join him there. More than two decades ago, Brown started the Edom Art Fair, which became popular for artists. It discontinued years later, but local merchants formed the Edom Chamber of Commerce in 2000 and brought the arts festival back within a year.
The Edom Festival of the Arts features a juried art show with some of the state’s best artists and many from other states. Paintings, pine needle art, woven designs, artistic wood, silk scarves and more have been among the wares to be seen at this event.
And those aren’t the only festivals slated for the third weekend of October.
The Hollands Quarters Community, located about four miles west of Carthage in Panola County, hosts the Fifth Annual Beans and Cornbread Festival on the campus of the Pine Grove Baptist Church. The festival is a fundraiser for the church, which was originally built in 1879. It is largely a community gathering that features comfort foods like beans and cornbread, cakes and pies, along with live music, children’s rides and a health fair. For more information, call 903-693-7454 or 903-690-0121.
On Saturday, October 27, the Longview Exhibit Building will host the Sixth Annual Multicultural Festival, which develops opportunities for awareness and education of cultural affairs in the Longview area. About 2,000 people attended the 2011 event, which features cultural exhibits along with food and entertainment. The exhibit building is located at 100 Grand Blvd., and the festival lasts from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The festival is put together by the City of Longview Partners in Prevention’s Race Relations Committee.
Meanwhile, on October 27, from 4-7 p.m., Nacogdoches will hold the 15th Annual Scare on the Square event that celebrates the impending Halloween date the following week. Scare on the Square includes food and non-food vendors, church groups and businesses attracting thousands of people to downtown Nacogdoches.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, November 3, Mineola kicks off its Iron Horse Fall Festival which celebrates the train community’s history and heritage. A chili cook-off and car show have been the biggest attractions of past Iron Horse Festivals. The Mineola Chamber of Commerce still seeks vendors for this year’s celebration, which coincides with the Metric Century Bicycle Ride that same day in Mineola.
If the past seven weeks haven’t tuckered you out, you can make your sweet escape to either Henderson or Grand Saline on Saturday, November 10.
Henderson hosts the annual Heritage Syrup Festival. Ribbon cane syrup making, folk art demonstrations, live music including several bluegrass acts and a story tellers’ pavilion are planned for the Henderson Depot Museum Grounds located at 514 N. High Street. Meanwhile, more than 200 vendors and exhibitors, a children’s section and the antique and classic car exhibit, along with more live entertainment are scheduled for the city’s historic downtown square. Even the local civic theater gets in on the act with three melodrama performances throughout the day. Hay ride shuttles are also available along with carousel rides and a saw mill demonstration.
Meanwhile, Grand Saline hosts its Third Annual Great American Peanut Butter Festival, which benefits the East Texas Food Bank. The first festival in 2010 attracted more than 8,000 people, and last year’s festival was featured on Texas Monthly’s “Drop Everything” list. The first 1,000 patrons have a free chance at winning a $50,000 cash prize. The event kickstarts at 7 a.m. with the Peanut Butter Pancake Breakfast on the Chamber of Commerce Pavilion followed by vendors, a parade, the “Peanutiest Pet Contest,” live music and, of course, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich eating contest.