By Cheril Vernon

Messenger Copy Editor

LOVELADY – The 35th annual Lovelady Lovefest is just a week away on Saturday, Feb. 11 – but the excitement for the event is already starting to gain steam. This year’s theme is “Wild About Lovefest.”

Among the festivities planned for the annual Lovefest include: the Lovefest coronation; barbecue cook-off; parade; festival which includes arts and crafts, food and entertainment; baby beauty contest; baking contest; and dance.

“The Lovelady Lovefest is always the second Saturday of February, a few days before or right around Valentine’s Day,” Lovefest event organizer Lawanna Monk told the Messenger during the coronation picture day event held recently at the historic Collins House in Lovelady. “All the proceeds from the Lovefest goes straight back into the community to help the kids.”

Monk said the event is well-attended.

“It brings a lot of people into the community such as family members coming in from out of town to attend Lovefest or coming back to visit with their old friends. It might be their old friends at the barbecue cook-off, that they only get to see during this time of the year,” Monk said. “We’ve had people who have had arts and crafts booths here for 20 to 30 years. They look forward to seeing each other because their common ground is this festival.”

In addition, the festival gives the community a chance to display its best assets – the children.

“It gives the kids a chance to shine. They get the opportunity to perform for moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles,” Monk said. “And in the parade, people get to show off their antique cars and horses, for example, all kinds of things.”

Lovefest Coronation

Kicking off event will be the Lovelady Lovefest Coronation, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Lovelady High School Gymnasium.

The 2017 Royal Court – made up of girls voted on by their classmates to represent their grade from grades 7-12 and their escorts – will participate in the coronation event as well as the 35th annual LoveFest Parade.

The court consists of the following: senior princess Aaliyah McKnight; senior escort, Gus Connell; junior princess, Victoria Gatlin; junior escort, Taylor Womack; sophomore princess, Haley Pitts; sophomore escort, Jay Thomas Robinson II; freshman princess, Lauren Cimrhanzl; freshman escort, Aubrey McClure; eighth-grade princess, Sophia Bachynsky; eighth-grade escort, Eric Anderson; seventh-grade princess, Sarah Maddux; seventh-grade escort, Jacob York II; crown bearer, pre-kindergarten student Landon Thompson; and flower girl, pre-kindergarten student Lainey Dyer.

Tickets for the coronation are $4 for adults and $2 for students. Admission is free for children under the age of 4 and elementary-school performers.

Following the crowning, various classes from Lovelady Elementary School, will take the stage to perform songs and dances.

For more information about the coronation, call Lisa Allen or Carol Monk at 936-636-7636.

BBQ Cook-off

Another popular event during the Lovelady Lovefest is the annual Lovefest Bar-B-Que, Chili & Pinto Bean Cooking Cook-off, which will be held Friday, Feb. 10 and Saturday, Feb. 11 on the grounds of the Old Gym in Lovelady on Texas 19. This will be the 35th year the Lovelady Masonic Lodge No. 539 will sponsor the event.

Categories include barbecue ribs, barbecue brisket, chicken, pinto beans, chili and pinto beans. The first-place team in each category will receive $300. Second- and third-place awards also will be given in each category. One first-place award ($200) for showmanship will be presented.

“We are full. We already have 32 teams signed up to participate,” Cook-off organizer Mike Broxson said. “We have teams from Crosby, Tyler, a lot of teams from right around Lovelady, Huntsville, Sante Fe, Texas, all over.”

Broxson said in general about 25 teams return to participate, with a few new teams coming in every year.

“It’s a hard cook-off to win because we have a lot of cookers who really specialize in what they cook, whether it be pinto beans or barbecue. There’s a lot of showmanship, a little boasting. They enjoy messing with each other when they are competing.”

Teams will begin setting up on Friday, Feb. 10 and start cooking that evening. A calcutta will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday for the teams entering the ribs and brisket categories. A cooks’ meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 in front of the cook-off headquarters by the gym.

Judging will start at noon Saturday, Feb. 11 with chili, then barbecue ribs at 1 p.m., pinto beans at 2 p.m., chicken at 3 p.m. and brisket at 4 p.m. Awards will be presented at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 in front of the cook-off headquarters.

Drawings also will be held for various donated items including a large crawfish cooker, jewelry, Yeti cooler, .22 target pistol and more. A special closed drawing for a large generator will be held for the barbecue cook-off teams. Tickets are generally $1 each, but you do not have to be present to win. The items will be on display at the Masonic Lodge.

For more information about the cook-off, call Broxon at 936-636-7337, or Ronnie Driskell at 936-636-7839 or 936-662-6539.

Lovefest Festival and Arts & Crafts

The Lovelady Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Lovelady Community Park in downtown Lovelady, located on Texas 19 South on the old Lovelady School campus. The event will include entertainment, and arts and crafts booths.

“We will have all kinds of food – cajun, barbecue, turkey legs, sausage-on-a-stick, burgers, funnel cakes, gumbo and carmel-covered apples,” event organizer Lawanna Monk told the Messenger. “Wild Bill Sodas will have all flavors of soda. We will have peanut brittle and kettle corn too.”

Booth entry fee is $40 for a 10”x10” spot. Cost is extra for a booth with electricity ($10, 110-volt, $20, 220-volt). Entry fees must accompany the entry form to reserve the booth space. Entry fees received after Jan. 31 must be cash, cashier’s check or money order. Any approved individual or business may have a booth. First-time participants will have to include photographs of items they plan to sell with their rental application.

“We will have vendors selling everything from clothing to jewelry to metal art, wood art, crosses, candles, Tupperware™, and a lot of handmade stuff,” Monk said.

Booths must be set up and open by 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 and stay open until 4 p.m. All booths may start setting up after noon Friday, Feb. 10, if desired. All trailers must be set up by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10.

Arts and crafts booths will be inside the gym, under the open pavilion with concrete floor, on a concrete slab or on the grass outside. Game booths will be on the grass outside. As of today, the food booths are full.

For more information about arts and crafts booth space rental, call Lawanna Monk at 936-546-4054 or e-mail loveladylovefest@yahoo.com

Parade

One of the biggest highlights of the weekend will be the annual Lovefest Parade, which will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11.

This year the parade route has changed. It will start at the Lovelady Community Center on Texas 19 and will end at Lovelady High School. Those participating with an antique or classic car or horses, will end their parade route at the parking lot near Lovelady State Bank, where horse trailers can be parked in advance.

“Last year the parade lasted an hour and 45 minutes. We had 71 classic and antique cars and 12 floats, parade organizer Tammy Cousins told the Messenger. “Highway 19 will be shut down for the parade, so be sure to get here early and find a seat to watch the parade.”

Parade Grand Marshal will be Lovelady High School graduate and longtime resident Norma Lane, who recently was promoted as the president of Lovelady State Bank. Lane also volunteers for a number of charities.

“This year our theme is ‘Wild About Lovefest’ so you can go ‘safari,’ or do something like ‘wild about sports,’ – some businesses planning to participate are doing that,,” Cousins said. “We also have people who are doing ‘wild about hearts’ for Lovefest and all sorts of things.”

Cousins said anyone can participate in the parade suggesting antique and classic cars, horses motorcycles, bicycles, tractors, dirt bikes, four-wheelers, ATVs, etc.

“You can even walk in the parade. For businesses, it’s good, free advertising. It doesn’t have to be a classic or antique car, if you are proud of it and want to participate, come show it off. You will be more than welcome,” Cousins said.

Those planning to participate in the parade should arrive early to line up. There is no particular order to the parade, so those participating should just line up alongside the road behind other participants in order to be signed up. Judging for the parade will start at 8:30 a.m. and the parade organizers will present ribbons to the winners.

“If you have a float or trailer that has a lot of kids in it, I have places I can put them where they can be safely off the road until the parade starts,” Cousins said.

For information about the Lovelady Lovefest Parade, call Tammy Cousins at 545-1111 or 546-1331, Connie Baker at 936-537-6247 or Tracy Thompson at 936-581-0353.

Festival Entertainment

Two dance groups and “frisbee dogs” are on tap for entertainment during the Lovelady Lovefest on Saturday, Feb. 11.

“We have students from both The Edge Dance Company and Hot On Your Heels to perform,” entertainment organizer David Christy said.

The Edge Dance Company will perform from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m., while the Hot On Your Heels group will perform from noon to 1 p.m. on the concrete pad by the Old Lovelady Gym.

Throughout the day, Leroy Golden with Good Karma Canines entertain the crowd with his dogs that are trained to catch frisbees.

Groups or individuals interested in performing during the Lovelady Lovefest can contact Christy at 936-661-6856.

Baby Beauty Contest

First United Methodist Church of Lovelady is sponsoring the annual Baby Beauty Contest.

The contest will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 at the church, located on Reed Street in Lovelady.

Those who plan to watch or participate in the parade, are invited to come to the church after the parade to enter the contest.

“We have sponsored the baby contest for 35 years. The community loves it and it’s a fun thing for us. It’s a tradition and a community effort,” Baby Beauty Contest organizer Barbara Crowson told the Messenger. “We have five age groups and we judge both boys and girls separately. We had 80 contestants last year.”

Entry forms must be filled out and mailed with a $15 entry fee no later than Feb. 4 to the following address: First United Methodist Church, c/o Mary Allen, P.O. Box 87, Lovelady, TX, 75851. Registration also will be taken at the door.

Judging will be in the following age groups: 0 to six months; 7 to 12 months; 1 year olds; 2 year olds; 3 year olds; and 4 year olds. Boys and girls will be judged separately.

“We enjoy seeing the kids all dressed up. Some of them come in tuxedos and oh my gosh, the dresses,” Crowson said.

Trophies will be awarded for first place, second place and third place in each group. High-point trophies will go to Little Miss Lovefest and Little Mr. Lovefest. The award ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Band Stand located in the City Park.

For additional information, contact Allen at 936-636-7372 or JoAnn Henry at 935-624-6407.

Lovefest Baking Contest

For the third year, the Lovefest Baking Contest will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, sponsored by the Weldon Civic Club.

“Last year we had between 30 to 35 participants. That was our first year to do the children’s contest, and we had about 6 or 7 kids participate. We hope to get even more this year,” Baking Contest coordinator Sherry Leggett said.

Divisions are available for adults in the following categories: decorated or iced cakes; bundt (pound) cakes; pies; and cookies. For children age 12 and under, categories include cakes and cookies.

Entry fee is $5 per dessert. All desserts must be delivered and ready to be judged to the Lovelady Community Center by 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11. Judging will start at 11 a.m. with the winner to be announced as soon as possible.

All desserts will be sold whole with the funds going to the Weldon Civic Club Scholarship Fund.

“I encourage everyone to participate because all of the money goes for scholarships for seniors at Lovelady,” Leggett said. “The first year, we gave out one $500 scholarship. Last year, we were able to give out two $500 scholarships, one to a boy who went to a trade school and one to a girl going to Sam Houston. This year, we hope to be able to give out more than two scholarships.”

Cash awards will be given to each division winner. Grand prize awards will be selected for the best adult dessert and best children’s dessert.

For more information about the baking contest, call Sherry Leggett at 936-636-7026, Shirley Jordan at 936-636-2834 or Laverne Grantham at 936-636-7342.

Lovefest T-shirts

Lovefest T-shirts are available for $15 for short sleeves and $20 for long sleeves. There is an extra charge for extra-large sizes.

Lovefest Dance

The annual Lovefest Dance will be held from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Lovelady Old Gym. Local band, the Honky Tonk Heroes will provide music for the dance. Admission is $15 for singles, $20 for couples and $5 for children age 12 and under (with an adult). There is a $10 cooler charge. No glass containers are allowed at the gym.

For more information about the dance, call Lawanna Monk at 936-546-4054.

Helping the Community

Proceeds from the Lovelady Lovefest benefit the local youth, as the proceeds are split between four Lovelady High School (LHS) Project Graduation classes and the LHS Future Farmers of America.

Basically, the four high school grades (freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors) pick up a certain area of the festival to work. From the time they are in their freshman class to their senior year, this class continues to be responsible for working this particular part of the festival.

“When they come in as a freshman class, we give them a certain area and they keep that for all four years so we don’t have to retrain them,” event organizer Lawanna Monk said. “They get four years of funding but they work for it. It’s good money for one day of hard work.”

For each graduating class, this means their Project Graduation event is funded. Project Graduation is an all-night graduation party for the graduating class which provides a safe, alcohol- and drug-free environment for the graduates.

“It gives them a nice night where they (the graduating seniors) can spend one more last evening with their classmates before they all go their own separate ways and it gives their parents a peace of mind that they are safe on that night. Plus, they can get cash and prizes,” Monk said. “Statistics show that teens are vulnerable on graduation night, so Project Graduation helps keep them in a controlled atmosphere on this most important night.