Photo: Tipton Ford-Lincoln Owner Neal Slaten's '51 F100 truck is decked out and ready for blueberry celebrations. With Slaten, pictured on left, are Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce Interim President/CEO Bill Teague and Festival Chair Grace Handler. Tipton Ford-Lincoln is the presenting "Blue Diamond" sponsor of the 27th Annual Texas Blueberry Festival set for June 11 in downtown Nacogdoches.
(Photo by Kelly Daniel)
Good blueberry vibes are building
by Kelly Daniel, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce
As the big blueberry festival approaches, blueberry spirits rise with the addition of new events.
The 27th Texas Blueberry Festival presented by Tipton Ford-Lincoln is Saturday, June 11 and will cover the Nacogdoches, Texas historic downtown and Festival Park.
"When you think about what the Texas Blueberry Festival stands for in our community, there is no better fit for Tipton Ford-Lincoln to be involved with our area customers, as well as with people from out of town, travelling in to attend the festival," said Neal Slaten, owner of Tipton Ford-Lincoln. "I'm excited that Tipton is the presenting sponsor, and all of us at the dealership are ready to be a part of the event that is exclusive to Nacogdoches."
For a first-time appearance at the festival, a Ford Innovative Lab Trailer will be open to everyone from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. "It houses working engines for viewing, and technicians will be on site to give demonstrations and answer questions," Slaten said. "Expect a fun and interesting learning experience."
The front part of the trailer houses two cutaway engines. In the back is a 6.7L power stroke diesel engine, which is also a teardown engine. Slaten said to expect a fun and interesting learning experience.
The trailer will be in the Vehicle Funcase car show area, between the downtown brick streets and Festival Park. "Cool Ford giveaways will be passed out and everyone may sign up for some nice prizes," Slaten said. "Folks will get an up-close, really good look at the 2017 Ford Raptor, too."
Featured in the middle of the 200 block on Main St. is the Tipton Ford-Lincoln Hug a Hero event booth. "All at the festival are invited to take this opportunity to show appreciation to those who are leaders in our community and to those who make sacrifices for us, who protect and rescue," Slaten said. "There is a photo-op feature in the Hug a Hero booth, too, and please, feel free to tag all social media posts with #TexasBlueberryFest and #TiptonFord."
Festival favorites that have become traditions for many will return, including the Kiwanis Blueberry Pancake Breakfast, the Blue Pies Smiling at Me Pie Eating Contest, Fresh Blueberries for Sale and Kids Bounce Park.
"Some events are creating a following," said Festival Chair Grace Handler. "The Running of the Blueberries 5K has pets joining the fun. That, along with mapping out the course using the trails, creates a unique attraction that keep participants coming back."
More interesting animals show up "dressed in the blues" for the True Blue Pet Parade that will begin in the 400 block on E. Main St. around 9:30 a.m.
The Blueberry Festival of Quilts makes its biennial return. The Nacogdoches Quilters Guild have been piecing together works of art for two years, getting ready for the two-day showing that opens on Friday, June 10 at Fredonia Hill Baptist Church on South St. "With more than 100-plus entries, it could take two days to see everything," Handler said.
The winners of the Mr. and Miss Blueberry Pageant held on May 21 in SFA's Baker Pattillo Student Center will make appearances at the festival in their sashes and crowns. Winners of other contests happening on festival day such as the Paul Kendrick Memorial 42 Tourney, the Washerboard Pitching Contest and the Vehicle Funcase will be announced near the end of the festival.
Handler's tip for enjoying a full blueberry festival day is "take rest breaks in the indoor event venues. At the top of each hour beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m., The Cole Art Center will have film screenings for the Nacogdoches 1938 film and the present day video," she said. "Regions Bank offers delicious treats in the sweet shop - enter from Main St., and Bye Bye Blues variety entertainment shows in the bank's meeting room - enter from Pilar St. Commercial Bank of Texas holds Cookin' Up the Blues cooking demonstrations and Tricentennial Flashbacks in the main lobby with appearances by historic Nacogdoches personalities."
Find outdoor rest spots like the Cool Zone in Festival Park, and around the festival grounds are three live entertainment stages that will get toes tapping to some groovy tunes by talent such as The Never Brothers, The Allstars, Stephen Castillo, Stacey Cohorst and The Haggerty's. Performances by the Rhythm Rocker Cloggers, Zumba with Kelli, the Boys & Girls Gymnastics group and the Twirlerettes are also scheduled. Times and stage location information are on the festival website.
"The excitement is growing throughout the town, with businesses offering blueberry-inspired specials and themes," Handler said. "The blueberry on top is that the festival marks the halfway point of the City’s Tricentennial year-long celebration. It is a special year with Tipton Ford-Lincoln and a 300-year town anniversary all mixed together."
Get the details at www.TexasBlueberryFestival.com, or contact the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, producer of the Texas Blueberry Festival, at 936-560-5533.