The 22nd Annual Texas Blueberry Festival, presented by Brookshire Brothers, attracted sizable crowds again this year. Many wore happy, blue-tinted smiles.
Total attendance is estimated at 19,000 - equal to last year's record festival.
A survey of 424 attendees found:
- 62 percent traveled zero to 99 miles
- 35 percent traveled 100 to 499 miles
- 2 percent traveled 500-plus miles
That means 37 percent traveled more than 100 miles to "the tastiest festival in Texas."
Four motel/hotels representing about 40 percent of the 1,021 hotel rooms in Nacogdoches reported that they were sold out or nearly sold out on Friday, June 10.
Of the 31 bed and breakfast rooms in Nacogdoches, only 3 rooms were available the night before the festival.
Vincent Smith, manager of Brookshire Brother's Fresh Harvest store on University Drive worked with his counterpart Junior Guerrero from the South Street store and dozens of coworkers to serve 5,184 bottles of cool water to visitors. Vendors crunched through 250 bags of the store's ice, served from an 18-wheeler on site.
Visitors to The Blueberry Place walked off with 1,146 pounds of berries, up from last year's 872 pounds.
Mill Creek Farms brought 13,000 pounds of blueberries to the festival and sold out by early afternoon. Farm spokesperson Mary Boutwell reported that the berries ripened several days earlier than last year.
Local grocers are well-stocked and are ready to assist anyone who still has fresh East Texas blueberries on their list.
The berries freeze well and can be enjoyed year-round.
The festival is produced by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce.
"The volunteers get all the credit," said Chamber President Bruce R.
Partain. "From festival chair Michelle Smith to Logistics Chair Teresa Darby, to Chamber Chair Francis Spruiell, to the block captains, Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful and on and on. The most important figure is this - those volunteers are number one."