By CHERIL VERNON
Organizers are finalizing plans for the heavily-anticipated return of the Hot Pepper Festival slated for Saturday, Oct. 27 in Palestine.
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.
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,” City of Palestine Event Coordinator Heather 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 throughout the day.
Hot Pepper Parade
The Hot Pepper Festival Parade 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.
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 for each contest will receive a trophy — and bragging rights!”
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.
“We have brought back the Hot Pepper Fest, and Oli Peña, but we have not brought back his friends. We are asking people to sign up and get creative and help us bring back the rest of the gang,” Hrebec said. “Costumes must be pepper themed and each entry must have a pepper oriented name.”
Applications will be online soon on the City of Palestine’s Hot Pepper Festival page at www.cityofpalestinetx.com
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