Fall Fest gears up for big Saturday

Stew contest, Keith Anderson highlight final day

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Sept. 19, 2008 - The annual Hopkins County Fall Festival is reaching its end, but there's still plenty to do between now and Saturday night.

Those who have yet to indulge their inner kid still have time to enjoy the carnival put on by Triple T Amusements. The carnival will be open at 6:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights, as well as from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. Armbands and tickets for the various rides are available at the carnival, located across from the Sulphur Springs High School just south of the tennis courts on Gladys Alexander Drive.

For a sneak peak at Saturday evening's main event, Starnight, head over to the Coca-Cola Soundstage at 8 p.m. Friday. Cumby band Exit 110 will be performing during the free street dance, anotherl tradition hosted this year by Star Country Radio. The band is also the opening act for Starnight headliner Keith Anderson, the country star who has caused quite a stir among the ladies in the community since they heard he is coming to town.

Starnight tickets are still available at the Civic Center for $25 each through Friday evening, but will cost $30 on Saturday. Credit card orders also draw an additional $2 handling fee. The concert begins at 7 p.m., and the doors at the Civic Center Auditorium open at 6:30 p.m. for Starnight.

The Fall Festival Cover Girl winners and runners-up will also be announced during the Starnight Concert.

The winner of the drawing for a $1,375 Browning shotgun will also be announced during Starnight. Raffle tickets are available for $5 Saturday at the fair grounds (the Civic Center and high school).

The shotgun can be viewed during the Lake Country Antique Tractor Association Tractor Pull, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and will continue until about 4 p.m. in the Civic Center arena. Tickets are $4 for adults; there is no admission charge for ages 12 and under. Concessions by the Genealogical Society are available inside the Civic Center, or visit the stew contest for all you can eat of Hopkins County Stew Cook Off entries for just $5 -- but get there early as the crowd is large and often enjoys sampling more than one team's product.

The World Champion Hopkins County Stew Contest should be well under way by 9 a.m. when tickets go on sale for the stew. The contest doesn't officially kick off until dawn Saturday, but many cooking teams enjoy setting up their site the night before to offer tasty stew treats while enjoying the company of friends. They work into the night and Saturday morning getting their stew just right for the 10:45 a.m. judging. The public can begin sampling the entries at 11 a.m.

Be sure to stop by the information booth on the stew grounds in front of the Civic Center to ask for a map listing each stew cook and their site. Maps will also be posted on the grounds.

To make it easier for the disabled and elderly, a special tent will be set up near the corner of the Chamber of Commerce offices. Handicap parking will be behind the Southwest Dairy Center.

After stew winners are announced at noon, all are encouraged to head over to the small creek running through the fair grounds just east of the Civic Center to watch the All American Duck Race, which is slated for about 12:30 p.m.

Ducks can be purchased for $5 apiece or five ducks for $20 at any local business with a duck race display, or at the Chamber or the Fall Festival Saturday morning. The ducks will be dumped in the creek, and a $500 prize awarded to the "owner" of the duck crossing the finish line first. The second place rubber duck earns $200, while $100 goes to third place. There is also a $50 prize for the "lame duck" -- the one finishing last.

Don't want to deal with finding a parking spot and walking to the stew grounds? A shuttle will be offering rides from VF Outlet Mall to the downtown square then on to the fair grounds and let people off at the Chamber of Commerce building. The shuttle will begin at 8 a.m. and run about every 30 minute until 4 p.m., which will be the last opportunity to catch a ride from the Fall Festival grounds back to the mall or square.

To keep the kids busy while the stew's cooking, Freddie Prez and Lanky the Clown will be on the grounds beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday to help keep the youngsters entertained. Kids can also pet actual animals at the Ponies and Pals Petting Zoo from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They can also view the "Dancing Boogie Heads" video, said to be a real crowd pleaser, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For a more mature flavor, a piece of history or a souvenir, visit the household arts contest display, quilt show, and arts and crafts sale.

The Households Arts contest display will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Sulphur Springs High School Conference Center, while the Lone Star Heritage Quilt Guild Show will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the high school mini gym. Among the selections are quilts by Eleanor Burns, "Quilt in a Day," sewing and quilting, demonstrations, a silent auction, boutique, and at 2:30 p.m. a raffle drawing for the Quilter's Garden Party quilt.

Arts and crafts will be sold at the high school from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and exhibits and food booths will be open at the Civic Center from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.

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