By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The carnival rolled into town Sunday and on Monday afternoon, workers were busily preparing the rides, games and food booths for the onslaught of humanity that will invade the Grapeland City Park, beginning today as the 72nd Annual Peanut Festival kicks into high gear.

Sam’s Amusements will return to Grapeland as part of the Peanut Festival for the 20th year and will bring the carnival rides, games and food booths people have grown to love year after year.

After arriving on Sunday, the carnival workers settled in and then began the process of unpacking, setting up the rides, games and various booths to be ready to go by Thursday.

In a previous interview with The Messenger, Gary Montgomery – the owner of Sam’s Amusements – reported, “It takes us a day, day and a half to set up and then maybe half a day to inspect. I guess it takes us about two days to get everything up and running and ready to go.”

Among the rides this year are the classics like the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Zipper, the Sizzler and a Ferris wheel. There are also plenty of rides for the younger crowd as well with rides like the merry-go-round and Bear Affair.

A new ride at this year’s festival will be the Rock Star.

“That one right there,” a carnival worker said, “will make you shake, rattle and rock and roll!”

While it’s been around for a while, one of the more popular rides is the Silver Streak.

“It’s a Himalayan style ride. It goes around and around and plays loud music. It goes forwards and it goes backwards. It has an actual train horn on it, it’s loud and obnoxious and people love to ride it,” Montgomery said in the previous interview.

The carnival officially begins on Thursday with “Family Night.” The armbands for the night’s event are $20 and festival goers can ride all the rides from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. It’s arguably the best deal you can get on a Thursday night in Grapeland. Come early, because if you come late you may have to wait in line.

The weather is always a concern for the carnival, but the forecast for this weekend’s event looks good. According to www.weather.com, Thursday will be sunny with a high of 87 and a low of 65. Winds will be out of the southeast at three miles per hour and the humidity is forecast to be 54 percent.

Friday is expected to warm up a little as the weather continues to be sunny. Highs are expected to be in the lower 90s and the lows are expected to be in the upper 60s. Winds are expected to be from the south at five mph and the humidity is projected to be 65 percent.

On Saturday, festival attendees can expect mostly sunny skies with an expected high of 90 and a low of 67. Winds will be out of south, southeast at seven mph and the humidity is forecast to be right at 70 percent.

The forecast calls for less than a 10 percent chance of rain on all three days.

On Friday, Oct. 13 the Peanut Festival events continue with a pep rally for the Grapeland Sandies at 11:15 a.m. in the high school gym.

Homecoming festivities begin later that same evening when the 2017 Homecoming King and Queen will be crowned in a pre-game ceremony at Sandie Stadium. Following the game, the Sandies will take on the Overton Mustangs in a District 11-2A DII matchup.

After the game, head over to the Grapeland City Park to enjoy the music of Texas Rebellion under the stars.

Saturday morning will start off with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at the Little White Church.

Following the breakfast, the Peanut Festival Parade will roar to life at 10 a.m.  Once the parade concludes, the activities will be going on all day back at the City Park.

The 2017 Peanut Festival draws to a conclusion on Saturday evening as eight young ladies will showcase their talents as they vie for the title of Miss Peanut Queen 2017.

Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com