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Hot Pepper Festival Ready to Heat Up East Texas

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 Annual Event Has Something for Everyone 

By Jason Jones 

Messenger Reporter 

PALESTINE – For more than 40 years people have traveled from far and near to enjoy the festivities in Downtown Palestine known as the Hot Pepper Festival. 2021 promises to be yet another epic opportunity for everyone to come and enjoy an amazing time. 

The fun will kick off on Friday, October 22 with the CASI and Community Chili Cookoff. Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to host CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) cooks from all over as well as Palestine Area residents and businesses at the annual Palestine Chili Cook-off & Hot Pepper Festival. Proceeds from the Cook-Off will benefit the Meals on Wheels of Palestine. The event will take place at the Palestine Farmers Market at 813 W. Spring Street. Check in starts at 7 a.m. and the cooks meeting is at 9 a.m. Judging will begin at 3 p.m. The entry fee for cookoff teams is $25. 

Saturday will get underway with the Pepper Palooza Parade at 9 a.m. The Parade will begin at the Anderson County Courthouse at 500 N Church Street and will proceed down Avenue A, Main Street,  Queen St, then Crawford St, back to the Courthouse. Parade participants need to arrive at the courthouse by 8 a.m. 

Downtown festivities will begin at 10 a.m. when the festival gates open. The Main Stage will be located at 300 W. Oak St. And will feature live music throughout the day. Scheduled acts include Aaron Goodvin at noon, The Ransom Brothers Band at 2 p.m. and Morgan Ashley at 3 p.m. Ashley will also be performing at the Event Center at 1 p.m. 

Other activities taking place throughout the day at the El Fuego Food Stage include the Atomic Wing Challenge, sponsored by WingStop, the always popular Hot Pepper Eating Contest, and the Lolly Lick-A-Thon, sponsored by Intensity Academy. Eating events will begin at 11 a.m. 

The Performance Stage will feature performances by New Creations Dance, The Academy of Dance, and Steps of Faith, while the Tumblers Stage will feature Titanium Cheer and G-Force Athletics. 

The downtown festival will also host a variety of food and arts & crafts vendors as well as a Kidz Zone for the younger crowd. 

In addition to the downtown events, CARS of Palestine will host their 35th Annual People’s Choice Car Show at the Palestine Senior Citizen’s Center, located at 200 N. Church St. From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. 

There is no cost to attend, and most of the main parking areas surrounding the festival will be open for free parking, including St Philips Episcopal Church, First Christian Church, Palestine Church, Palestine City Hall, and all streets leading into the festival. Drivers are urged to be respectful when parking for the festival, leaving room for all vehicles to arrive and leave in a safe manner. 

For more information call (903) 729-6066 or visit www.palestinechamber.org  

Jason Jones may be reached via email at jjones@messenger-news.com 

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