By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

PALESTINE – As it enters its eighth decade, the annual Dogwood Trails Festival promises three weekends of music, history and fun for the whole family when it kicks off in Palestine later this month.

“There are events going on throughout the community all three weekends, the end of March through the beginning of April, which is typically when the dogwoods are at peak blooming season,” explained Stephanie Wright, Member Services Coordinator for the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce. “There’s a lot of interesting things ranging from old-time music festivals to rodeos to historic tours of the Redland’s building downtown – just all kinds of things.”

Kicking off the events is the Old Time Dulcimer & Music Festival, scheduled for Thursday, March 22 through Saturday, March 24 at the Museum for East Texas Culture. Those attending the festival will have the opportunity to enjoy events such as concerts, jam sessions and workshops.

A historic tour of the Redland’s Hotel will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday, March 23 with an architectural tour following at 2 p.m. Each guided tour has a duration of approximately 30 minutes, and light refreshments will be provided. Tours will also be given Saturday, March 24, March 30-31 and April 6-7.

Friday, March 23 is also the kickoff date of the 12th Annual Boston Porter Memorial Rodeo, set to take place at the Anderson County Livestock Pavilion and continue on the evening of Saturday, March 24. Tickets are available for advance purchase at Cavender’s Boot City for $12 apiece and will be available for $15 each at the gate. All proceeds will benefit the Boston Porter Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The 80th Annual Dogwood Trails Celebration Festival events continue at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24 in downtown Palestine with festival food fare such as sausage-on-a-stick, turkey legs and funnel cakes. Kids will have plenty to do with carnival-type rides, bounce houses, pony rides, miniature train rides, face painting and more.

Admission to the festival is $1 per adult, and children ages 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. All proceeds will be donated to local non-profit organizations.

A parade through the streets of downtown will begin at the Anderson County Courthouse at 10 a.m. Check-in for parade participants will begin at 9 a.m. Applications may be downloaded at www.texasdogwoodtrails.com and may be returned via email at info@palestinechamber.org or faxed to 903-729-2083.

Specialty arts and crafts booths will be set up throughout the festival grounds. Vendor applications may be obtained at www.texasdogwoodtrails.com and returned to the Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce via email, fax or mail.

According to Wright, musical entertainment will be provided during Saturday’s festivities by Blacktop Mojo, a hard rock group hailing from Palestine which was formed in 2012 and consists of Matt Curtis, Nathan Gillis, Kenneth Irwin, Matt James and Ryan Kiefer.

“They’re getting pretty big, and so we kind of feel like this is our last chance to get them before they go mainstream like Whiskey Myers and that kind of thing,” Wright said. “They’ll be here performing in the late afternoon or early evening. We’re really excited about that.”

Other entertainers set to perform during Saturday’s festival are the Anchored Dance Company and Midnight Highway.

The Boston Buckaroo Kids Rodeo will be held Saturday, March 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Anderson County Livestock Pavilion. Children participating in the event will be grouped into categories of ages five and under, ages 6-8 and ages 9-12 to compete in goat dressing, mutton busting and stick horse racing. Contestants will have the opportunity to register during Saturday’s festival from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the Boston Porter Memorial Scholarship Fund.

On March 24, First Christian Church will be selling taco soup lunches from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church, located at 113 E. Crawford St. in Palestine. Each meal consists of taco soup, a dessert and a drink and may be purchased for $8 per adult and $5 per child age 12 and under.

Also set to take place March 24 is the annual Master Gardener Tree and Plant Sale in the Federal Building Parking Lot, located at 101 W. Oak St., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, stained glass tours will be provided at First Christian Church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

The 33rd Annual Cars of Palestine car show will be held March 24 at the Senior Citizen’s Center, located at 200 Church St. A fee of $3 per spectator will be charged at the gate. Participants must register by mail or at www.carsofpalestine.com by Wednesday, March 14. A registration fee of $20 is required.

Curious will host Texas Heroes Family Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 24. Members and children ages two and under will be admitted free of charge, while non-members and older children will be subject to a $5 admission fee.

Dogwood Brunch will be served from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, March 25 at Sabor a Pasion. A children’s magic show will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Palestine Civic Center.

Pilgrim Church and Cemetery will provide gingerbread and coffee from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. An Easter musical titled ‘Amazing Love How Can It Be’ will be presented at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Palestine with light refreshments following.

Dogwood Days aboard the Texas State Railroad will be celebrated March 24-25, March 30-31 and April 1. The train will depart from the Rusk Depot.

During each Saturday of the event, festivalgoers can head to the Texas Vineyard & Smokhaus located at 2442 ACR 2133 in Palestine to enjoy wine tasting or chocolate fountains and fruit from 2 to 4 p.m. for a cost of $5 per person. Sirloin burger meals and German sausage meals will be sold from noon to 5 p.m. for $6.50 apiece.

For more information on these and other events taking place during the 80th Annual Dogwood Trails Festival, please visit www.texasdogwoodtrails.com.

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.