Hopkins County Dairy Festival will officially get under way Friday with an opening ceremony and ribbon cutting at Guaranty Bond Bank at 9:30 a.m.
However, things really take off early Friday morning with a balloon flight around dawn to give members of the press and other media a glimpse of what the weekend entails. Later Friday will be the official Hot Air Balloon Rally and Glow from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the Civic Center grounds.
Saturday lifts off with a Hot Air Balloon Rally and Flight at 6:30 a.m.The friendly race is slated to continue until 7:30 a.m. Two additional balloon rallies and glows are slated at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 a.m. Sunday on the field west of Sulphur Springs High School.
Of course, all flights and races are subject to weather. If there’s too much wind at balloon level, flights will be grounded. However, unless there is inclement weather and high winds at ground level, the glow should still proceed on schedule. Determination about flights will be made just prior to each scheduled lift off.
The public rallies will feature 27 balloons, while the media flight will include seven. Among the local balloon sponsors are The Propane Company, Farmer’s Electric (bringing the Touchstone Energy balloon), REMAX, and for the first time, the Curves corporate balloon, according to Pam Black, coordinator of the hot air balloon events.
“Last year there was some talk of someone else wanting to take over the balloon rally. The balloonists said they wanted the rally to stay. It’s one of the top rallies people like to go to,” said Black of the rally’s continual growing reputation among balloonists.
This year’s balloon events will also feature a few new pilots, and promises to be a lot of fun for participants as well as spectators. It will be especially rewarding in terms of friendships for anyone willing to donate their time as crew members.
Anyone interested in crewing, which involves tracking balloon competitions and helping put up and take down balloons, is encouraged to contact David Black at 903-439-4384 or just show up.
Balloon event coordinators recommend crew members wear closed-toed shoes and long pants to protect them from tall weeds, grass and briars that might be found in the fields of balloon competitions. They will be following the balloons in vehicles, monitoring dropped milk cartons at designated sites and helping pack up balloons at the end of the flight. Crews will have to do some lifting, but those willing to help but not able to do that are still welcome, according to Black.
Crews should report for duty at 5:45 a.m. Friday at Holiday Inn Express for those willing to help during the media flight. To help with the evening rally and glows, half of the crew should report to the Southwest Dairy Museum at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. flight and the other half at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. exhibition. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, crew should report to the Dairy Museum at 5:15 a.m. for the 6:30 a.m. competitive flights.
Also early Saturday will be the annual Dairy Fest Milk Run. Registration begins at 6:45 a.m. Saturday near the soccer fields and restrooms at Coleman Park. A $25 per competitor registration fee will be due at check in.
Those registering that morning who would like to receive a commemorative T-shirt will want to get to the park as early as possible, as event planners ordered only about 100 shirts. Those pre-registered can pick their shirts up; the rest will be given to Milk Run participants on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Mark Meadows, event coordinator.
The race features two heats, a 1K Fun Run for kids at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K Run for everyone else at 8 a.m. An overall male and female award will be given as well as awards for the top male and female in each of the following age groups: 9-11, 12-15, 16-20, 21-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 plus. Awards will be handed out at 9:15 a.m. Saturday.
Refreshments and drinks will be provided during the race.
The festival will march on Saturday with the annual Dairy Festival Parade, which departs from Buford City Park at 10 a.m.
Those planning to enter a ride or exhibit in this year’s event are asked to register ahead of time if possible. This helps keep the parade spread out and in an order that doesn’t put a children’s float and a big truck together in line. To register, send a fax with the entrant’s name and information (type of entry, contact information) to parade organizer Mike Blount at 903-885-7729, or leave a message at that number.
All parade participants are encouraged to keep in mind a few guidelines when preparing an entry for the parade.
“I encourage all entries to be of good taste – this is a family program with kids,” Blount said. “Also, we encourage anyone who might be handing out materials or candy to please keep up, to keep the parade moving.”
Also, the use of three-wheelers and four-wheelers is limited. If one is planned for an organization, please contact Blount ahead of time time make sure it will meet parade guidelines.
Participants are also reminded to keep an eye out for children during the parade, and try to get candy on the curb when throwing it to youths. Those watching the parade along the route, which runs from Buford Park east on Connally Street, then turns south onto Gilmer Street and continues to Lee Street, are reminded to keep a close eye on children to avoid accidents.
The parade is expected to include the traditional entries such as floats prepared by Dairy Fest Queen Pageant contestants, teams, schools, big rigs and fire trucks. This year’s parade also promises a few new sights including two large floats graced by past Dairy Festival Queens.
Leading this year’s event will be long-time dairy farmers Randy and Shelia Koon. They will be traveling with their “cow train,” engineered by their youngest son, Koyt, with assistance from other family members and friends. But don’t expect to see any spots on those cows, as they run a Jersey operation — no Holsteins on their farm!
After the parade, Dairy Festival enthusiasts will have plenty of time to grab lunch and won’t have to rush to the 5th Annual Corvette Show and Shine, to be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on the circular driveway at the entrance to the Civic Center.
First and second place trophies will be presented in each of the six Corvette classes. There will be a $100 prize for the Mayor’s Choice. Drawings will be held for cash prizes and gift certificates. Ten names will be drawn for $25 prizes, two for $50 cash card prizes from Wal-Mart, two gift certificates in the amount of $25 from VF Outlet Mall, one Brookshire’s $25 gift certificate, and “various and sundry” other prizes to be given away.
The last presentation of the show will be a $250 cash prize, awarded through a drawing to one lucky Corvette owner who has participated in the show. The winning Corvette will have to be on the show site to win, however.
Corvette Show participants are encouraged to bring a canopy (not over 10x10 feet), chairs and whatever to keep them comfortable. There will be food and drinks available at the Civic Center.
The show is “for fun only and there will be no points given nor will it be judged by professional judges, just peers.”
Domino aficionados won’t want to miss the 42 Tournament which also begins at 1 p.m. in the Civic Center exhibit hall.
For some good down on the farm fun, don’t miss the DF Pageant Queen contestants and their parents as they test their skills during the annual Milking Contest. The event begins at 3 p.m. Saturday on the Civic Center grounds.
The Texas State Champion Homemade Ice Cream Freeze-Off will follow the Milking Contest at 4 p.m. Saturday, just in time to stave off the heat of the day — which at last prediction was forecast to be in the mid-90s or higher.
The Chamber of Commerce had already had more than 60 people confirm their intended participation in the event, about the same number as last year. However, this year’s entries promise to be quite a bit more diverse and creative than in past years.
Some of the tasty treats — which can be sampled by the general public for $3 for a container, spoon and all-you-can-eat of ice cream — will include cherry amaretto nut, chocolate cookie, carmel peanut butter, banana walnut, butter pecan toffee, pomegranate, pecan pie and turtle cheesecake.
Not so daring? That’s OK. There are still plenty of plain ice cream entries for the die-hard vanilla and chocolate fans.
Anyone interested in entering their ice cream, free of charge, for a chance to earn cash prizes and bragging rights for the next year is welcome. Those who can are asked to register ahead of time, just for record-keeping purposes, but anyone can show up the day of the event and sign up. Registration forms are available by stopping by the Chamber of Commerce office or calling 903-885-6515 to have one faxed to them.
Little Dips (kid age 6-12) and Big Dips (age 13 and up) can enter their best plain, novelty or fruit ice cream for a chance at the title and $75, while Super Scoops (past Freeze Off winners) compete for a $100 prize.
Dairy items must be used — in other words, no Cool Whip or other imitation or nondairy products. Also, any eggs used must be cooked. Ice cream must be brought in its original freezer.
Participants are asked to have their entries ready and on the grounds at 3:30 p.m. for judging. The sites will be opened up at 4 p.m. to be served to the general public.
After Sunday’s early morning balloon competition, the Dairy Fest will take a break until Wednesday when the four-day carnival begins on the Civic Center grounds. Things will then resume full swing Saturday, June 20, with the Northeast Texas Livestock Association Junior Dairy Show at 10 a.m. in the Civic Center Arena, the Dairy Foods Contest at 10 a.m. at Texas AgriLife Extension Office, the reception for former queens in the evening and conclude with the 7 p.m. start of the Pageant and Coronation in Civic Center Auditorium.
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