By BETH FOLEY
PALESTINE — Sunny skies and pleasant fall temperatures are expected to usher in Saturday’s annual Fall Oktoberfest.
“The weather is supposed to be fantastic,” Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Kathi Masonheimer said. “We’re expecting huge crowds. We’ve got several new arts and crafts vendors and the food should be fantastic.”
The 10 a.m. parade through downtown Palestine traditionally kicks off the festival.
The parade will follow its usual route, beginning from the Anderson County Courthouse down Avenue A, then turning west on W. Main Street and north on N. Queen Street before turning east on W. Lacy Street to head back to the Anderson County Courthouse Annex parking lot.
This year’s parade theme is “Floating into Fall.” It will feature area high school marching bands; floats from a variety of community, school and church clubs and organizations; area Scouts; elected officials and political candidates; area fire departments; car clubs; and riding clubs.
Parking is prohibited along the parade route this year. City officials say that vehicles found parked along the route will be towed at the owner’s expense.
Judging for the parade will take place from the second floor balcony of the Historic Redlands Building at West Oak and North Queen streets with the winners to be announced later in the day.
The rest of the day offers wide choices of things to do within walking distance of each other.
Just down the hill on East Crawford Street, Old Town Palestine will host one of two sites for live entertainment. The Sawdust Stage, inside the Beer Garden, will have Antioch Road from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by Phil Pritchett from 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., Rich O’Toole from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the Kyle Bennett Band from 5:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Admission to the Beer Garden is free but drinks and food will be $2 each. The Beer Garden will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Alcohol will not be sold to minors.
Judith Summerville Arts, located on Crawford Street in front of the Beer Garden, will have a book signing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. by author Joyce Ibrahim, author of “Taxi Tales and Taxi Life;” paintings of portraits and silhouettes by artist Shirley Hiser from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; a Chihuahua fashion show featuring dogs modeling holiday fashions at 11 a.m. and at 2 p.m.; and an art sale on the porch from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Festival admission gates will be set up along Crawford Street at the intersections with Houston, N. Sycamore, Magnolia and N. John streets; along Main Street at the intersections of Houston, N. Sycamore, Magnolia and N. John streets; and at N. Queen and W. Oak streets.
Cost is $1 per person, with a portion of the proceeds from each gate going to the non-profit organization manning the gate.
Last year, approximately 12,000 people paid to enter the Fall Oktoberfest.
Inside the festival gates at the old Federal Building at the corner of North Sycamore and East Oak streets, the Anderson County 4-H members will be displaying their Project Show entries inside the building and also putting on a cake walk with homemade baked goods and a Little Wrangler Rodeo with stick horse races and roping contests.
“That’s going to be really neat,” Masonheimer said. “Several of our businesses have got stuff for kids to do, too.”
Close by, the Kidz Zone will be back with its inflatibles, pony rides, trackless train and this year, the Sidewinder carnival ride, located near the intersection of Houston and Oak streets.
Arts and crafts booths and food vendors will be set up along West Oak Street between North Sycamore and North Queen streets, offering a variety of goods for sale.
In the parking lot at the corner of North John and West Oak, the Family Stage will host family-style live entertainment featuring Texas Kids from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.; the Bob White Band from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.; and the Rusty Lively Band from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Outside the festival admission gate and across North Queen Street, Sacred Heart Catholic Church is holding its first Fall Festival from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in its parking lot and its Activity Building.
The event offers visitors games for children, a raffle, silent auction and garage sale, as well as the chance to dine on a variety of world cuisines including Mexican, Filipino, American, Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Nigerian. Proceeds will be used to repair the church.
Nearby at the corner of North Queen and Debard streets, the Palestine Masonic Lodge No. 31 will be selling barbecue sandwiches, chips and drinks for $6 as a fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
While the Anderson County Quilt Show will not be held this year, Grimes Sewing Center is filling the void with its Quilt Airing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sewing shop will have quilts displayed in its parking lot at 619 W. Oak St.
Also Saturday afternoon, local would-be actors and actresses can audition for the Palestine Community Theatre’s upcoming Christmas show, “O Little Town of Bagels, Teacakes and Hamburger Buns,” at 1 p.m. at the Texas Theater, located at 213 W. Crawford St.
Later in the evening, the Texas Theater will host a performance of “Arsenic and Old Lace” by the Palestine Community Theatre, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at the door are $12 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 18.
For little train lovers, the Texas State Railroad’s Rusk Depot is hosting its second weekend of Thomas the Tank Engine. Dubbed “A Day Out with Thomas: The Great Discovery Tour,” the little blue steam engine pulls passenger cars on 30-minute rides and offers children the chance to meet Sir Topham Hatt and play games and other activities centered around the popular story characters.
Tickets are $18, plus tax and service fees, for ages 2 and up. For more information, call 1-888-987-2461.
In addition, Sweet Dreams Winery in Elmwood will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for its usual Saturday wine tasting. For $4, visitors may sample the 14 varieties of wine bottled at the family winery. Head down Texas 315 north toward Brushy Creek and follow the signs. For information, call 903-549-2027.