By Butch Burney, Chamber of Commerce President
Almost 170 stew cook sites and projected perfect weather should make for a memorable 53rd Annual Hopkins County Stew Festival for the entire family on Saturday.
The festival, presented by title sponsor Alliance Bank, will feature 168 cook sites of either chicken or beef stew, a Kids Zone, a vendor market, and more at Buford Park.
“We are very pleased to have so many cooks participating this year. This is 24 more than cooked last year, so there will be a lot of options,” said Butch Burney, president of the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the festival. “This is such a fun event for everyone. Thanks to our many sponsors, and primarily title sponsor Alliance Bank, we can put on an affordable festival for the entire family.”
Tickets are $8 each, or four tickets for $28 if you buy them before Saturday. On Saturday, there will not be a four-ticket discount. You can purchase tickets at Alliance Bank, City National Bank, Texas Heritage National Bank, and Pilgrim Bank locations or the Chamber office, 110 Main St. You can also purchase them online at HopkinsChamber.org until Friday. Online tickets will not be available for purchase on Saturday. The ticket includes an all-you-can-eat bowl, cheese, crackers, a spoon, and a napkin.
Stew service will start, as usual, at 10:45 am, with quart service beginning at 11:30 am. Quart tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Chamber office or on the festival day. The announcement of the winning stews will be at 12:45 pm.
The vendor market opens at 9:00 am Saturday, with about 30 booths selling merchandise and desserts. It will be on the south side of Connally Street in the paved circular area.
But the fun begins on Friday when the Tailgate Friday Night party, sponsored by Bob Evans Farms, hits center stage. Many cooks gather on Friday to prepare their sites, swap stories, and prepare foods for the appetizer contest. Then, after the home football game against Paris, there will be a free concert in the park, with Dubb and the Luv Machines on stage.
If you want to wear your new T-shirt or carry your stew mug or tumbler to the festival, now is the time to gear up. You can get stew merchandise at the Chamber office. There are other new features as well.
“We will also have a Kids Zone with Gellyball and free bounce houses from Jerry’s Jump Zone,” Burney said. “We have doubled the number of port-a-potties, added a fourth drink station, and will have about 30 vendors in our market. It will be a great day for the entire family.”