Photo: Holding a "Brrokshire Brothers Welcomes You to the Texas Blueberry Festival" event banner are from left Brookshire Brothers South St. Store Director Junior Guerrero, festival Logistics Co-chair Polly Etta Sunda, Brookshire Brothers University Dr. Store Director Vincent Smith, and Nacogdoches County Chamber staff members Kelly Daniel and Bruce Partain.
(Photo by Jay Mosco)
Feature story by Jay Mosco, Chamber Intern, Spring 2015
Excitement builds as businesses continue to announce their blueberry themes, sales and treats in anticipation of the 26th Annual Texas Blueberry Festival presented by Brookshire Brothers. The festival is set for Saturday, June 13 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Nacogdoches.
The event is the only state-sanctioned blueberry festival in Texas and attracts more than 19,000 people.
The festival's presenting sponsor Brookshire Brothers has partnered with the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce for years to ensure a successful event.
"Brookshire Brothers and blueberries - they go hand in hand," said Sally Alvis, director of Public Relations and Business Development at Brookshire Brothers. "Supporting this 'home grown' festival aligns with our core value of celebrating family and community."
According to Alvis, attendees will find that the Brookshire Brothers spots at the festival are great places to taste some berries from Texas.
"From hosting the Blueberry Pie Baking Contest at 200 East Main St. to selling fresh picked berries on the corner of Main and Mound, we love this festival,” Alvis said. “It's a great way for our Brookshire Brothers family to get to know locals and visitors alike.”
Many of the festival’s activities are free as well as admission and parking. Some events have a nominal charge, and tons of vendors that will line the streets and Festival Park for gift shopping opportunities and yummy festival food choices.
People can pre-register for some of the events at the Blueberry Festival.
“Pre-registration is required for the Blue Washer Board Tournament and the Paul Kendrick Memorial 42 Tournament and suggested for the Running of the Blueberries 5K and The Blueberry Cupcake Battle,” said Grace Handler, festival chair and Handler Insurance owner.
Handler encourages all contest entrants to "practice, practice, practice because perfection can pay off for some events."
"Presenting your best cupcakes at the cupcake battle and costuming for the pet parade could make a difference,” Handler said. “You have a better chance to win some fun prizes.”
The website, www.TexasBlueberryFestival.com
“You should see everything that your eyes can see, smell all your nose can smell, enjoy all your mouth can taste, your fingers can touch, your ears can hear," she said. "Just let your body absorb it all!”
Handler also advises festival guests to consider taking advantage of the rest spots that are dotted throughout the brick streets and Festival Park.
“Commercial Bank of Texas and Regions Bank both have events in their air-conditioned lobbies and community rooms," Handler said. "A Cool Zone with water and fans is set up all day in the park."
She recommends shopping in the downtown merchants' stores for a cool break and "most all will offer some blueberry-sweet deals, too.”
Megan Kubecka, East Texas Regional Outreach Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association, coordinates the festival's couple of hundred volunteers.
"If you want to get a more personal, hands-on experience, you can get in on the 'behind the scenes action' and volunteer at one of the events," Kubecka said.
"One of the most rewarding experiences is helping put the Texas Blueberry Festival together,” she said. “Lots of people will come out and volunteer for two hours or more and then spend the rest of the day taking in the sights with their family. The great thing is, there is still plenty of opportunity for you to volunteer. Why not bring the whole family for a rewarding and memorable volunteer experience!"
Kicking off the blueberry weekend is a Friday night Blueberry Bluegrass Concert in the Park. "The free admission concert is from 5 to 10 p.m., June 12 at Banita Creek Park near the Farmers Market, and Rex Perry Autoplex is sponsoring the family-friendly event," Handler said. "Food concessions will be open, and we suggest bringing lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy the entertainment!"
The Friday night concert will feature five musical acts: The Steve Hartz Family Band, The Coursey Family Band, The Blake Brothers Bluegrass Band, The Bottom Dollar String Band and Catahoula Drive.
For more information about the Texas Blueberry Festival, contact the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce at 936-560-5533 or the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-888-OLDESTTOWN. For the complete schedule of events and activities for the Blueberry Festival, go to www.TexasBlueberryFestival.com
At the festival, find maps and event listings at the Nacogdoches County Chamber Information Booth at 200 E. Main St. in front of the Visitors Center.