By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – The carnival will start to roll into town on Sunday and by Monday afternoon workers will be busily preparing the rides, games and food booths for the onslaught of humanity that will invade the Grapeland City Park, beginning Thursday, Oct.17 as the 74th Annual Peanut Festival kicks into high gear.
The unofficial start of the event, instituted two year ago, will be held on Wednesday evening, Oct. 16 as a bonfire will roar to life at the Grapeland Athletic Complex, shortly after 8 pm.
The bonfire – taking a page from the Texas A&M playbook – symbolizes the burning desire to beat the ever lovin’ daylights out of whoever the Sandies play at Homecoming. This year’s victims are the Lovelady Lions.
It should be a tough game as there is no love lost between the cross-county rivals. The Lions started off 0-3 this season but have rebounded to even their record at 3-3. The Sandies are 6-1
The official start of the 2018 Peanut Festival begins with Carnival Family Night at the Grapeland City Park on Thursday, Oct. 17. Carnival rides, games and fried delicacies of all sorts will take center stage beginning at 6 p.m. and lasting until 10 (ish) pm. Armbands, allowing carnival goers to “ride all night,” will be available for purchase at the park at a cost of $20 per armband.
The festivities kick it up a notch on Friday, Oct. 18. Starting things off will be the Homecoming Pep Rally in the Grapeland High School Gymnasium, beginning at 11:30 am. Cheerleaders, the GHS Band, students, faculty and alumni will all be in the gym to help get the Mighty Sandies fired up for their football game later in the evening.
Plan to show up early at Sandie Stadium later that evening as GHS seniors are honored as part of Senior Night.
Once the GHS seniors have been recognized, the Grapeland Sandies will take the field for a tilt with the Lovelady Lions.
This year, the Homecoming King and Queen – along with their Royal Court – will be announced during halftime ceremonies.
The candidates for Homecoming Queen are: Tatiyana Bowie; Haylee Cryer; Keaundra Harris; Madilyn McCombs; and Kenya Woods.
The candidates for Homecoming King are: Joshua Black; Justin Bobbitt; Dacorian Bryant; Austin Driskell; and Cooper Ward.
Cooper Sheridan is the Junior Prince and Tori Woodford is the Junior Princess. Cadarian Wiley is the Sophomore Prince and Maggie Hanna is the Sophomore Princess. Omarian Wiley is the Freshman Prince and Sarah Little is the Freshman Princess.
Following the game, the action will crank back up at the Grapeland City Park with a concert and dance. Remember, a dance area has been installed in front of the gazebo at the park so those who want to cut a rug won’t continuously trip over those pesky pinecones! The music and boot scootin’ are scheduled to last from 9 p.m. until midnight.
Saturday, Oct. 19 marks a day chock full of Peanut Festival events. Head on back to the downtown area – early in the morning – and find the perfect spot to watch a parade. For those who have pre-registered, line-up begins promptly at 8 am.
At 10 am, police sirens and fire truck claxons will sound, marking the start of the parade. Queen contestants’ floats, tractors, cars, police and fire vehicles, motorcycles, horses and a slew of other entrants will entertain those in attendance as the parade winds its way down Main Street and through the Grapeland area.
When the parade ends, you will want to make your way back to the Grapeland City Park for a day full of fun, food, games and rides. Arts and crafts booths, vendors selling their wares, turkey legs, ribbon fries and funnel cakes will dominate the scene as visitors and residents alike stroll through the park grounds enjoying a full spectrum of all things peanut.
Take a break around 5 pm, go home, shower, check the college football scores but be ready to go again by 7 pm. That’s when one lovely young lady will begin her final quest to become Miss Peanut Queen 2019.
The Queen’s Coronation begins at 7 p.m., however, try and get to the Lorena Schoultz Auditorium early as seating is limited.
This year’s candidates are: Cheyenne Bowman – Miss Elite Fitness; Carmen Coldiron – Miss Houston County Equipment; Haylee Cryer – Miss Grapeland Farm and Ranch; Cadie Belle Currie – Miss George Bartee Construction; Alyssa Dilli – Miss Houston County Air Conditioning and Heating; Keaundra (KeKe) Harris – Miss Best Friends Community Services; Cayden LeBlanc – Miss Grapeland Volunteer Fire Department; and Carmen Page – Miss Grapeland Noon Lions Club.
Tickets are now on sale at Platt Heating and Air for $15. If any tickets are still available by Saturday, Oct. 19, the Chamber will have them at their booth at the City Park during the Saturday events.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].