Palestine Hot Pepper Fest kicks off Friday
The Hot Pepper Fest, billed as the "hottest little festival in Texas," will be staged in historic downtown and Old Town Palestine with many new events, entertainment and other activities.
Although most attractions are scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday and continue into the night, some events will start Friday. Organizers estimate the fall festival with the revived name of Hot Pepper Fest will draw a crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 people.
The festival will have a "county fair feel," said Heather Hrebec, events coordinator for the city of Palestine. There will be quilt shows, canning and gardening exhibits and demonstrations, tractor shows, 4-H project shows and a petting zoo.
Naturally, there will be a pepper-eating contest, she said.
A kids zone will offer children rock climbing walls, a mountain bungee jump, inflatables, slides, a carnival swing, a gyro spin, train rides, pony rides and building projects.
Contestants may start cooking Friday in the Hot Pepper chili and barbecue cook-off. Teams may be composed of a chief cook and up to four assistants.
Stages in various locations will feature musical performances from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday in what's known as "The Hollow" in Old Town Palestine while the cook-off is under way and throughout downtown from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.
Performers will include the Bigsbys, Jason Cassidy, Professor Porkchop, Darc Thirty, Dogwood Square Dancers, Jaron Bell, Backseat Molly, Casey Donahew Band and others.
The Casey Donahew band will perform from 9:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday on a stage set up downtown. Donahew is a Texas country music performer well known in the state, Ms. Hrebec said.
The festival will have a parade with the theme "Back to the Pepper."
A mix of numerous other attractions is on tap.
Arts and crafts vendors will hawk pottery, stained glass, soap, woodworking, wooden crosses, cedar signs and potpourri.
Food booths will offer turkey legs, corn on a cob, corn dogs, lemonade, ice cream and assorted barbecue, such as barbecued baloney sandwiches.
There will be a salsa contest, a disc golf tournament and beer gardens.
A new festival attraction will be a Wild West interactive demonstration featuring a chuck wagon, an Old West camp and stories about the Old West to teach children how people cooked in pioneer days. Cream soda will be sold in cups from old wooden barrels.
Another exhibit will feature blades, swords and other cutting items made in the renaissance fashion. An educational Texas longhorn exhibit will present Texas history and allow festival goers to have their picture taken with longhorns.