By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – After months of planning, the 2017 Peanut Festival drew to a close on Saturday, Oct. 14. While there are always some bumps along the road, this year’s festival was relatively glitch-free and managed to showcase the best of Grapeland during the annual celebration.   

The weather held up and the various events leading up to the queen’s coronation all saw large crowds, starting with a pep rally / bonfire on Wednesday night. The blaze brought out a crowd in the hundreds as several players and coaches spoke to the audience in an effort to get them fired up for the homecoming game on Friday night, Oct. 13.

On Thursday of last week, the action at the Grapeland City Park heated things up as the carnival roared to life.  It was Family Night at the park and carnival goers were able to purchase an armband that allowed them to ride all the rides they cared to.

The Friday festivities began with the Grapeland High School Pep Rally. The GHS gym was packed with students and alumni from years gone by as they sought to fire up the Mighty Sandies before they took to the field later that evening in a District 11-AA DII matchup against the Overton Mustangs.

Prior to the kickoff, the 2017 Homecoming King and Queen were announced. Jennilea Lovell was crowned as Queen and Brett Roop was crowned as King.

The other Homecoming King candidates were: Tanner Keith; Case Boyd; Bret Roop; Aaron Davis; Ashton Henry; Brayden Cheatham; Franco Rea; Jesse West; D’Angelo Colter; and Cedarian Davis.

The other Homecoming Queen candidates were: Kylee Puga; Callie Richburg; Jennifer Fajardo; Jennilea Lovell; Aaliyah Sims; Madelyn Conner; Janassiah Creag; Alysha Williams; Keana McKnight; and Deana McKnight.

The 2017 Grapeland High School Homecoming Dukes and Duchesses were: Dukes – Tyrin Wiley (Jr.); Decorian Bryant (Soph.); and Brandon Howard (Fr.). The Duchesses were: Hannah Chipman (Jr.); Keaundra Harris (Soph.); and Cheney Boyd (Fr.).

Once the pre-game festivities concluded, the Sandies and Mustangs squared off in the district opener for both teams and it was happy homecoming for the Grapeland fans as the Sandies defeated the Mustangs by a final score of 40-24.

After the game on Friday, the Dance in the Park Under the Stars was held. The Grapeland City Park provided the setting as Texas Rebellion brought their unique blend of Texas-influenced Nashville sound to the Queen City of the Sand Flats and had locals as well as visitors cutting a rug under the shadow of pine trees.

Saturday morning the festivities began at 10 a.m. with the sound of police sirens and fire engine claxons as the Peanut Festival Parade roared to life. Queens contestants’ floats, tractors, cars, police and fire vehicles, dancers, marching bands, horses and a slew of other entrants entertained those in attendance as the parade wound its way down Main Street and through the Grapeland area.

In the Queen’s Float competition, the George Bartee Construction float, featuring Callie Richburg, took top honors. Sandyland Propane, sponsor of Jennnilea Lovell, was first runner up and Sweet Southern Britches, the sponsor of Victoria Lane, was second runner up.  

The entry of Kevin, Kraig and Kaitey Goolsby took top honors in the civic division, while the Class of 1992 was runner-up.

The Elite Fitness float was chosen as the best float in the business category while the Brookshire Brothers float was second.

In the automobile category, Lewis and Betty Cox placed first with their 1932 military truck. Mike Anglin’s 1949 Chevy Deluxe Coupe was second.

In the marching band category, the Grapeland High School Band took home top honors while the band from Central High School – Pollock was second.

In the horse category, the Best Junior Cowgirl was Bailey Thorton; Ralph Brown won Best Cowboy; Shaundrae Butler won Best Cowgirl; the Dogwood Frontier Rodeo Queen and her Court were named as Best Riding Group; and the award for Best Horse Drawn Vehicle went to Ryan, Amanda and Samantha Richie.

When the parade ended, people flocked to the Grapeland City Park to check out the various arts and crafts booths, indulge in some of the delicious carnival food and ride some of the thrilling rides provided by Sam’s Amusements.

As the festivities in the park began to wind down, people began to make their way home in order to spruce up and get ready for the final event of the 2017 Peanut Festival – the Queen’s Coronation.

Eight young ladies were vying for the honor and privilege to represent Grapeland as the 2017 Peanut Queen. They were: Madelyn Conner, Miss Grapeland Noon Lions Club; Victoria Lane, Miss Sweet Southern Britches; Jennilea Lovell, Miss Sandyland Propane; Keana McKnight, Miss Park Hill Farm; Callie Richburg, Miss Bartee Construction; Aaliyah Sims, Miss Best Flight Travel; Hannah Turner, Miss Elite Fitness; and Alysha Williams, Miss Best Friends Community Services.

Miss Grapeland Noon Lions Club, Madelyn Conner, was crowned as the 2017 Peanut Queen

Hannah Turner, Miss Elite Fitness was named first runner-Up as well as Most Photogenic. The second runner-up was Keana McKnight, Miss Park Hill Farm. Callie Richburg, Miss George Bartee Construction was third runner-up and Jennilea Lovell, Miss Sandyland Propane was fourth runner-up.

Victoria Lane, Miss Sweet Southern Britches, was named Miss Congeniality and Callie Richburg won the talent portion of the competition.

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