Grapeland Has A History of Festivals
By Teresa Holloway
Messenger Reporter
GRAPELAND – “Admiring crowds see 200 parts of today’s barbecue parade through streets,” began one article reprinted in the Crossroads to Progress compilation.
It was1913 when the enormously popular ‘Possum Walk event took place. Two hundred opossums, 200 parts of today’s barbecue…
“The Grapeland ‘Possum Walk was a big success despite threatening weather…More than 5,000 people poured in on the morning trains from points along the International and Great Northern and from the surrounding country,” the article read.
‘Possum Walk’ was just what it sounded like. ‘Possum hunters from areas around the city gathered their furry four-legged friends and headed to Grapeland.
A long lane was fenced in with poultry wire the length of the street and except for a few sulky varmints, the ‘possums “struck a lively gait, which, once started, was hard to stop.”
More than 200 ‘possums ambled down the makeshift lane and though the article doesn’t specifically cite the end of the possum walk, it predicted thousands of visitors were expected the next day to attend the “big ‘possum barbecue…”
Immediately after the ‘possum parade, the people parade began and was composed of school children, decorated floats, automobiles, horse-drawn buggies and four companies of Woodmen of the World. The march was led by the Palestine Labor Band and stretched out for one mile.
Today’s Peanut Festival Parade incorporates horses and cars, school children and staff, politicians and pretty girls, bands and cheerleaders and floats of all shapes and sizes – but no ‘possums and thankfully, no ‘possum barbecue.
Each year, the carnival and booths attract thousands of guests to the town, visitors filling vendor slots and fair rides and for many, the Peanut Festival is a trip down memory lane.
Salmon Lake RV slots are filled to capacity, according to Floyd Salmon and even more guests are expected to join the fun over the weekend.
The annual Peanut Festival is a holdover from the earliest days of the town and each year, the traditions mingle with new memories.
No barbecued opossum is planned for 2016, but the attendance for the Peanut Festival is projected to rival the best ‘Possum Walk Grapeland ever had.
terholloway@hotmail.com