By Sarah Naron
PALESTINE – Each year since the 1987, the streets of downtown Palestine have been filled to the brim with locals and visitors seeking an opportunity for a fun-filled day in the historic portion of the city.
This year will be no exception as the 37th Annual Hot Pepper Festival – the city’s largest annual event – gets underway at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 and continues through 4 p.m.
“This year’s Hot Pepper Festival will feature an exciting, family-friendly atmosphere that is free for the public, including parking, admission, and tons of free entertainment,” said Nate Smith, Assistant to the City Manager.
According to Tourism and Marketing Manager for the City of Palestine Mary Raum, the festival has enjoyed new growth throughout the years. Planning and organizing of this year’s event has been carried out by volunteers and city staff over the past eight months.
“We are very excited to have an incredible variety of vendors filling over 200 spaces throughout 12 blocks within the heart of the Main Street District,” she said. “There should be something for everyone to enjoy.”
First on the 2018 festival agenda is the Hot Pepper Festival Parade, which will commence at 10 a.m. at the Anderson County Courthouse. The parade will first proceed down Ave. A before turning right onto Main St. A right onto Queen St. will then be made, and the parade will return to the courthouse after traveling down Lacy St.
“First, second and third place Hot Pepper Festival Parade trophies will be given in three categories – cars, horses and floats,” said Smith. “A $100 cash prize will be awarded to the top entry in each of the three categories.”
Those interested in entering the parade may obtain an application at the City of Palestine Visitor Center – located at 825 W. Spring St. – or by going online to www.cityofpalestinetx.com. Once completed, applications should be returned to the Visitor Center or sent via email to Parade Coordinator Diane Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“After the parade, vendors from all over will line the streets, including many fan favorites,” Smith shared.
More information on vendors – as well as the process of becoming a vendor during this year’s festival – may be obtained by calling Rachel Nichols at 903-723-3014.
Entertainment will be provided by local clubs, organizations and schools beginning at 11 a.m. on the Jalapeno Stage at the intersection of Magnolia St. and Crawford St.
Beginning at 12:15 p.m. on Spring St. and John St., the Palestine Fire Department will host the Bucket Brigade Challenge, which will be comprised of “local teams and organizations,” according to Smith.
The annual Hot Pepper Eating Contest will kick off at 2 p.m. on the main stage, located at the corner of Main St. and John St.
“The contest always draws a diverse and fun crowd,” Smith said. “Up to 100 contestants will be allowed to participate, and each will receive a medal.”
Prizes of $200 and $100 will be awarded to the first and second place winners, respectively.
Raum added that all festival activities geared toward children will be presented free of charge at this year’s event.
“(These activities) will include a rock-climbing wall, zip line, mechanical bull, zorb ball racing, inflatable bounce houses and slides, human foosball, a gaga pit and so much more,” Raum divulged.
Other events set to take place during the festival include musical entertainment provided by Midnight Highway Band and ‘American Idol’ finalist Ada Vox.
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at email@example.com.