Fall Fest parade starting early

Wind, rain from Hurricane Ike cancels outdoor events Saturday

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Sept. 12, 2008 - Due to projections of rain and possible inclement weather from Hurricane Ike, several activities slated for the opening weekend of the Hopkins County Fall Festival have been either canceled or will be rescheduled.

The hurricane, expected to hit the Texas coast early Saturday morning, is expected to bring heavy rain and wind to the area over the weekend. Exactly when the remnants of the hurricane will hit Hopkins County is unclear, but a tropical storm wind warning for the area will go into effect shortly after midnight and continue through Saturday evening. Heavy rain and possibly tornadoes are expected to accompany the storm, as well.

Consequently, the Fall Festival Parade, which usually kicks off events, will start earlier than usual, but could be canceled depending on weather conditions, according to Fall Fest Board of Directors Vice President and Parade coordinator Susan Neal.

Indoor activities will continue to take place, provided there in no severe weather such as tornadoes in the area, according to Neal.

But all other outdoor activities slated in conjunction with the Fall Festival this weekend at the Civic Center have been canceled, according to Neal.

Those cancelations include Friday's Fall Festival Relay For Life BBQ Cook Off, an International Barbecue Cookers Association-sanctioned event that was slated to kick off this afternoon.

"With the high winds being forecasted, we've decided to postpone the cook=off," said Tony Aguilar, cook-off chairman. "We were worried about the high winds and the contestants' canopies."

According to Aguilar, the cook-off will be rescheduled for "later this year or in the spring."

On Saturday, the county fair is supposed to kick off with the Fall Festival parade, which currently is slated to begin at least 30 minutes earlier than the originally scheduled, possibly even an hour earlier depending on the weather, according to Neal.

The parade, originally slated to start at 10 a.m. Saturday, now is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., with parade marshal Karon Weatherman leading the procession down the traditional parade route from City Park down Connally Street to Gilmer and South Broadway Streets, disbursing at Lee Street.

Anyone can enter a float in the parade -- just show up for line-up no later than 8:30 a.m. at Buford City Park. Participants may want to arrive by 8 a.m., however, just in case the parade has to be moved up to a 9 a.m. start.

Parade organizers will assess the weather Saturday morning and make a decision as to whether the parade needs to be canceled. Should there be inclement weather such as a heavy downpour, tornado activity or lightning, the parade will be canceled.

Barring inclement conditions, soccer teams will meet by the city pool. Big truck,s horses and tractors will meet by the football field. Everyone else should look for the people in the Fall Festival T-shirts to direct them to the proper location.

Those in the parade procession who choose to toss candy to children are reminded the importance of making sure the candy reaches the curb so that children won't be tempted to dart out into the street.

Four wheelers and motorcycles will be permitted. However, any children or teens must be supervised by an adult, and all riders will be asked to wear helmets and protective gear.

All parade entries will be judged, with plaques awarded for best overall entry, best youth float, best antique tractor, best car (antique or classic) and best theme.

"Please don't forget, we like to see floats that have everything that pertains to the Fall Festival. We would even like to see some clowns and balloons. On behalf of the Fall Festival, we would like to express how much we appreciate you," Neal says to all parade participants.

For more information about the parade, contact Susan Neal at 903-439-7070 or after 5 p.m. at 903-945-2722, or send her an e-mail at bobandsueneal@peoplepc.com.

The Earl W. Martin 42 Tournament is being held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13. The Echo Publishing Company -sponsored tourney will take place in the Civic Center Exhibit Hall. Early registration is $10 per team, and late registration on Sept. 13 will be $15 per team.

Participants must furnish their own dominoes, a card table and a partner. Plaques will be awarded to the first, second and third place teams.

Those planning to take part also should keep in mind a few rules: No talking will be allowed once dominoes are shuffled. Dominoes can be lined up in two rows. No sevens or nello allowed. No follow me or plunge permitted. The tournament committee has the final say on all disputes. In case a bye is needed, a drawing will be held for the position.

Concluding Saturday's activities will be the 28th Annual Gospel Songfest in the Civic Center Auditorium. General admission is $5, with a special $4 rate for senior citizens. The event will feature soloists and groups performing Christian music.

Several activities are slated throughout the week, including Cover Girl Events Tuesday and Thursday, Senior Citizens Day Tuesday, the Golf Tourney Monday, and the carnival kick-off and opening of exhibitors Wednesday night. The Fall Fest will be in full swing again Friday, Sept. 19, dubbed youth day, and concludes with the Starnight performance of Exit 110 and Keith Anderson, and the naming of the new Cover Girl Saturday night.

-- Terry Mathews, News-Telegram arts editor, contributed to this story

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