By CHERIL VERNON
Things are heating up for the Hot Pepper Festival slated for Oct. 27 in Palestine.
“We have lots of vendors, lots of food, and lots of entertainment so come on out and bring back the ‘Pepper,’” City of Palestine Event Coordinator Heather Hrebec said.
During the Hot Pepper Festival, attendees can expect to see a parade themed “Back to the Pepper,” pepper eating contest, kids’ zone, arts and crafts, county project show and more.
More than 10 bands of various genres — including the up-and-coming Texas country group, the Casey Donahew Band — are scheduled to perform. All concerts are free, but those who would like to be up close can purchase VIP tickets for $25 each.
To purchase VIP tickets, call the Palestine Civic Center at 903-723-2026 or stop by between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
The Hot Pepper Festival Parade — generally the kick off for the festival — will start at 10 a.m. from the Anderson County Courthouse square, travel down Avenue A to Main Street, then Queen Street to Lacy Street and back to the courthouse square.
“This will be the biggest parade we have had in quite a while. We currently have six bands participating and some of the Shriner Groups as well,” Hrebec said. “Get those parade entries turned in and don’t forget there is a $300 cash prize for the best float and a $300 cash prize for the best band.”
Parade applications will be accepted until Thursday and can be picked up and returned to one of these locations: City Hall, Palestine Visitor Information Center or the Palestine Civic Center. Applications can be downloaded from the City of Palestine’s Hot Pepper Festival page at www.cityofpalestinetx.com/hotpepper.php
Live music performances are scheduled from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 in The Hollow in Old Town on the Habenero Stage to accompany the Hot Pepper Festival Chili & BBQ Cook-off kick-off and on multiple stages throughout the downtown area from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the day of the festival.
In fact, Hot Pepper Festival organizers have worked with the Texas Department of Public Transportation and the Palestine City Council to approve the closure of Spring Street from Queen to Sycamore Street on Oct. 27 to have the Chili Pepper Stage built.
“The Chili Pepper Stage will be on Spring Street due to the size of the stage,” Hrebec said. “TxDOT is going to assist us with getting the information out by putting up signage the week of the event and the city will set up detours.”
The Habanero stage will be set up in Old Town and the Jalapeno Stage (family stage) will be at Magnolia and Main streets. The main Chili Pepper Stage will be at the corner of Spring and John streets.
Queen Street will be open the day of the event, excluding the parade, but Sycamore Street will be closed for the festival.
Chili & BBQ Cook-Off
There are still spaces available for the Hot Pepper Festival Chili & BBQ Cook-off. Categories to be judged are beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken, pinto beans, chili and calcutta. Besides the chili cook-off, there also is a special Hometown Chili competition for those with a Palestine address and Palestine phone number. For more information, call Glenn Conner at 903-284-8118.
Macho Pepper Eating Contest
The Macho Pepper Eating contest is back!
“Brookshires Grocery Store is sponsoring the event and it will be like it was before. We will have various degrees of peppers starting with the tame bell pepper and going all the way to the habanero pepper,” Hrebec said. “If you can stand the heat and eat the habanero you are the winner.”
First-place winners will win $50, a trophy and bragging rights, Hrebec said.
The contest will be held at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on the Jalapeno Stage (family stage), located at the corner of Magnolia and Main streets.
Oli Peña Costume Contest
Hot Pepper Festival organizers also have planned a Oli Peña Costume Contest.
“Oli Pena needs friends and we are asking people to come up with a costume and a creative name. The contest will take place on the Jalapeno Stage at 11:30 a.m. Saturday,” Hrebec said.
To sign up for the contest, be at the Jalapeno stage in costume at 11 a.m. First place is $100, second place is $50 and third place is $25.
Applications are available on the City of Palestine’s Hot Pepper Festival page.
To make parking a little easier, the Hot Pepper Festival organizers also have planned shuttle buses to drop off festival-goers in three areas.
“We know parking is a premium so we have three designated off site parking areas that are assigned to specific drop offs. If you park at the Senior Center the shuttle will drop you off in Old Town; if you park at the Mall, the shuttle will drop you off in downtown; and if you park at the Civic Center, the shuttle will drop you off at City Hall,” Hrebec said.
Shuttles will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the festival.
Download the just-released Hot Pepper Festival schedule online at http://www.cityofpalestinetx.com/hotpepper.php